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Dual races in 80th Assembly District yield different front-runners

In a pair of parallel races for the 80th Assembly District, Democrat David Alvarez led the race to fill the remaining months of the vacant seat, according to early election returns Tuesday, while his Democratic opponent Georgette Gómez drew more votes in the race for the next term.

Alvarez had 16,423 votes, or 55.74 percent of the total in the special election for the partial term left open when former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez resigned her seat in January. Gómez brought in 13,043 votes or 44.26 of the total early returns.

“I am proud that I ran a positive, unifying campaign,” Alvarez stated in a tweet, adding that his campaign promised “relief from rising costs for gas, food and housing; investment in education and safe neighborhoods; and help for the homeless. The voters spoke loud and clear: they want to see real change in California and that is what I will fight for in the Assembly.”

That’s just part one of the contest, however, since the election Tuesday serves as both a final vote on the partial term through November and as a primary election for the subsequent term. The two top vote-getters in the primary will advance to the fall general election to represent the district, which encompasses most of South Bay and includes Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa.

In the race for the next term, Gómez led with 14,611 votes, or 35.89 percent of votes in early returns, compared to Alvarez with 13,228 votes, or 32.49 percent of the total. Republican challenger John Vogel Garcia drew 7,850 votes or 19.28 of the total, while Republican Lincoln Pickard followed in fourth place with 5,021 votes or 12.33 percent of early votes counted.

Gómez said in a statement that she considered the election to be a referendum on economic relief for working families, the transition to clean energy and government integrity, and said she is still hopeful of overtaking her opponent in the special election.

“I’m grateful for the strong support our campaign earned all across South County tonight in this unique election with two campaigns on the ballot—a special election and regularly scheduled election,” Gómez said in a statement. “While we are behind in the special election, there remain thousands of votes yet to be counted, and we are in first place in the regularly scheduled election.”

Since January, the two Democrats have led the race to replace Gonzalez in the heavily blue district, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one. Both touted their hometown credentials as natives of Barrio Logan and experience on the San Diego City Council, but offered somewhat different legislative priorities.

Gómez, 46, is an environmental advocate who served on the San Diego City Council from 2016 until 2020. She said her priorities in the Assembly would include housing, environmental health and educational equity.

Alvarez, 41, works as a communications consultant and lobbyist and held a San Diego City Council seat from 2010 to 2018. He aims to focus on homelessness, public safety and education, including plans for a state university in Chula Vista.

The first round of election returns Tuesday included mail ballots received before Election Day and vote center ballots from early voting between May 28 and June 6, according to the Registrar of Voters.

It consisted of 380,049 ballots, including 7,466 cast at regional vote centers and 372,583 mail ballots returned. That’s about 19 percent of the county’s 1.9 million voters; the Registrar projected turnout of 30 percent to 40 percent for the primary election.

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