Excerpted from Daily Breeze
Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi beat out Republican Frank Scotto in elections for the South Bay district considered one of the most competitive in Los Angeles County.
With all precincts reporting Wednesday, Muratsuchi led with 57 percent of the vote in the 66th Assembly District, which includes Torrance, Gardena, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
Muratsuchi stopped short of declaring victory in a brief phone interview at 11:30 p.m. He credited his victory to “fighting for South Bay priorities.”
“The one message that i heard consistently throughout the South Bay is that people want a representative who will stand up to (President) Donald Trump, and I think we’re seeing that not only in the South Bay but throughout our country, with Democrats retaking the majority in the (U.S.) House,” Muratsuchi said. “That was a message that I emphasized throughout my campaign.”
First elected in 2012, Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, lost the seat to Republican David Hadley in 2014 but won it back in 2016, when the presidential election-year voter turnout was more favorable to Democrats.
This time, the Republican challenger was especially formidable. Scotto, who owns a gas station and a towing service, is a former Torrance city councilman and two-term mayor and had received strong financial backing from the California Republican Party.
But Muratsuchi, a one-time state prosecutor and Torrance school board member, went into the election with several advantages. Democrats’ advantage over Republicans in voter registration has grown to double digits percentage-wise, and Democrats pulled in a majority of the votes in the June primary.
A Republican victory in the 66th District could dent Democrats’ dominance at the state capital in Sacramento. Going into election day, Democrats held 55 of 80 seats in the Assembly, one more than they need to enjoy a two-thirds supermajority, allowing the party to pass tax legislation without cooperation from Republican members.
Trying to persuade voters to change their minds about Muratsuchi for a third time, Scotto’s campaign has emphasized differences on the issues by focusing on Republican opposition to the California gas-tax increase to fund highway upkeep, the state bullet train project, prison realignment widely blamed for rises in crime and changes in Proposition 13 property-tax limits.
At an Oct. 9 debate in Manhattan Beach, Muratsuchi defended himself, saying road and bridge repairs would be good for the economy and earthquake safety, that he approved a public audit of the bullet-train project after blocking an “emergency” audit, that a Legislator of the Year award from the California Police Chiefs Association proved his commitment to public safety and that he opposes removing Proposition 13 protections for homeowners.