List of special elections to the California State Senate

Special elections to the California State Senate are called by the Governor of California when a vacancy arises within the State Senate. Most special elections are conducted in two rounds. The first is an open primary and the candidate with the most votes must have a majority of the votes plus one to win the seat. If no candidate wins a majority, a second round is held with the two top candidates regardless of party.

Recall elections, the process by which voters petition for the removal of an elected official, are also included.

List of special elections[edit]

The dates listed indicate the time of the final election, either a runoff election or the open primary round if no second round was held.

District Date Predecessor Winner
33 October 3, 1961 James McBride (D) Robert Lagomarsino (R)
31 February 13, 1962 John Hollister (R) Alvin Weingand (D)
5 March 16, 1965 Edwin Regan (D) Fred Marler (R)
9 August 15, 1967 Gene McAteer (D) Milton Marks (R)
7 March 25, 1969 George Miller (D) John Nejedly (R)
34 August 18, 1970 John Schmitz (R) Dennis Carpenter (R)
27 July 20, 1971 George Danielson (D) David Roberti (D)
36 June 6, 1972 Gordon Cologne (R) W. Craig Biddle (R)
22 February 27, 1973 Tom Carrell (D) Alan Robbins (D)
38 March 6, 1973 Clair Burgener (R) John Stull (R)
20 January 15, 1974 William Coombs (R) Ruben Ayala (D)
24 July 2, 1974 Robert Lagomarsino (R) Omer Rains (D)
29 April 1, 1975 Mervyn Dymally (D) Bill Greene (D)
6 June 8, 1976 George Moscone (D) John Foran (D)
22 March 8, 1977 Anthony Beilenson (D) Alan Sieroty (D)
31 April 17, 1979 George Deukmejian (R) Ollie Speraw (R)
14 June 9, 1979 George Zenovich (D) Kenneth Maddy (R)
12 June 5, 1980 Jerry Smith (D) Dan O'Keefe (R)
35 April 13, 1982 John Briggs (R) John Seymour (R)
33 May 12, 1987 Paul Carpenter (D) Cecil Green (D)
39 December 5, 1989 Larry Stirling (R) Lucy Killea (D)
31 April 10, 1990 Bill Campbell (R) Frank Hill (R)
26 April 10, 1990 Joseph Montoya (D) Charles Calderon (D)
5 January 8, 1991 John Garamendi (D) Patrick Johnston (D)
1 May 14, 1991 John Doolittle (R) Tim Leslie (R)
35 May 14, 1991 John Seymour (R) John Lewis (R)
20 June 2, 1992 Alan Robbins (D) David Roberti (D)
32 March 2, 1993 Ed Royce (R) Rob Hurtt (R)
2 April 27, 1993 Barry Keene (D) Mike Thompson (D)
16 April 27, 1993 Don Rogers (R) Phil Wyman (R)
4 November 2, 1993 Mike Thompson (D) Maurice Johannessen (R)
11 November 2, 1993 Becky Morgan (R) Tom Campbell (R)
40 December 28, 1993 Wadie Deddeh (D) Steve Peace (D)
29 November 8, 1994 Frank Hill (R) Dick Mountjoy (R)
35 May 9, 1995 Marian Bergeson (R) Ross Johnson (R)
11 March 26, 1996 Tom Campbell (R) Byron Sher (D)
9 September 1, 1998 Barbara Lee (D) Don Perata (D)
32 March 7, 2000 Joe Baca (D) Nell Soto (D)
24 March 6, 2001 Hilda Solis (D) Gloria Romero (D)
35 June 6, 2006 John Campbell (R) Tom Harman (R)
26 May 19, 2009 Mark Ridley-Thomas (D) Curren Price (D)
37 June 8, 2010 John Benoit (R) Bill Emmerson (R)
15 August 17, 2010 Abel Maldonado (R) Sam Blakeslee (R)
1 January 4, 2011 Dave Cox (R) Ted Gaines (R)
17 February 15, 2011 George Runner (R) Sharon Runner (R)
28 February 15, 2011 Jenny Oropeza (D) Ted Lieu (D)
4 January 8, 2013 Doug LaMalfa (R) Jim Nielsen (R)
40 March 2, 2013 Juan Vargas (D) Ben Hueso (D)
32 May 14, 2013 Gloria Negrete McLeod (D) Norma Torres (D)
16 July 23, 2013 Michael Rubio (D) Andy Vidak (R)
26 September 17, 2013 Curren Price (D) Holly Mitchell (D)
23 March 25, 2014 Bill Emmerson (R) Mike Morrell (R)
35 December 9, 2014 Rod Wright (D) Isadore Hall, III (D)
21 March 17, 2015 Steve Knight (R) Sharon Runner (R)
37 March 17, 2015 Mimi Walters (R) John Moorlach (R)
7 May 19, 2015 Mark DeSaulnier (D) Steve Glazer (D)
32 August 7, 2018 Tony Mendoza (D) Vanessa Delgado (D)
1 June 4, 2019 Ted Gaines (R) Brian Dahle (R)
33 June 4, 2019 Ricardo Lara (D) Lena Gonzales (D)

List of recall elections[edit]

When applicable, the candidate who succeeded the recalled state senator is listed. If the recall election was not successful the winner is listed as "none".

District Date Recall target Replacement
20 April 12, 1994 David Roberti (D) Not applicable, recall failed
12 June 3, 2008 Jeff Denham (R) Not applicable, recall failed
29 June 5, 2018 Josh Newman (D) Ling Ling Chang (R)

Results[edit]

2014 35th district special election[edit]

California SD-35 (2011).svg
2014 California's 35th State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Rod Wright
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Isadore Hall, III 17,951 55.9
Republican James Spencer 8,014 25.0
Democratic Louis L. Dominguez 4,067 12.7
Democratic Hector Serrano 2,069 6.4
Total votes 32,101 100.0
Democratic hold

2015 7th district special election[edit]

California SD-07 (2011).svg
2015 California's 7th State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Mark DeSaulnier
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Glazer 38,411 33.7
Democratic Susan Bonilla 28,389 24.9
Democratic Joan Buchanan 25,534 22.4
Republican Michaela M. Hertle (withdrawn) 18,281 16.1
Democratic Terry Kremin 3,242 2.8
Total votes 113,857 100.0
General election
Democratic Steve Glazer 68,996 54.5
Democratic Susan Bonilla 57,491 45.5
Total votes 126,487 100.0
Democratic hold

2015 21st district special election[edit]

California SD-21 (2011).svg
2015 California's 21st State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Steve Knight
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Sharon Runner 26,360 94.1
Democratic Steve Hill (write-in) 996 3.6
Democratic Joshua Conaway (write-in) 252 0.9
Republican Jerry J. Laws (write-in) 120 0.4
No party preference Joshua C. Chandler (write-in) 108 0.4
Democratic Richard E. Macias (write-in) 91 0.3
No party preference Jason Zink (write-in) 90 0.3
Total votes 28,017 100.0
Republican hold

2015 37th district special election[edit]

California SD-37 (2011).svg
2015 California's 37th State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Mimi Walters
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Moorlach 38,125 50.3
Republican Don Wagner 33,411 44.0
Republican Naz Namazi 2,621 3.5
Democratic Louise Stewardson (write-in) 1,696 2.2
Total votes 75,853 100.0
Republican hold

2018 29th district special recall election[edit]

California SD-29 (2011).svg
2018 California's 29th State Senate district special recall election
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 91,892 58.13
No 66,197 41.87
Total votes 158,089 100.00
2018 California's 29th State Senate district special recall election
Successor of Josh Newman if a majority vote in favor of recall
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ling Ling Chang 50,215 33.80
Democratic Joseph Cho 31,726 21.36
Republican Bruce Whitaker 28,704 19.32
Democratic Josh Ferguson 17,745 11.95
Democratic Kevin Carr 12,713 8.56
Republican George C. Shen 7,442 5.01
Total votes 148,545 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

2018 32nd district special election[edit]

California SD-32 (2011).svg

The first round of the special election was consolidated with the regularly scheduled primary election. Although most of the candidates in the two contests were the same, the results were very different. Rita Topalian finished first in both races, but different candidates finished in second place. Vanessa Delgado finished in 2nd place in the special election, but 3rd place in the regularly scheduled primary election. She received a similar number of votes in both races, but candidate Bob Archuleta received about 54% more votes in the regularly scheduled election than he did in the special election. The different results have been attributed to the different order in which the candidates were listed on the ballot.[1]

2018 California's 32nd State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Tony Mendoza
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rita Topalian 29,135 25.0
Democratic Vanessa Delgado 18,898 16.2
Democratic Tony Mendoza 16,779 14.4
Democratic Bob Archuleta 13,593 11.7
Republican Ion Sarega 10,720 9.2
Democratic Vicky Santana 7,960 6.8
Democratic Ali S. Taj 6,961 6.0
Democratic Vivian Romero 5,379 4.6
Democratic Rudy Bermudez 5,117 4.4
Democratic John Paul Drayer 1,294 1.1
Democratic Darren Joseph Gendron 599 0.5
Total votes 116,435 100.0
General election
Democratic Vanessa Delgado 26,635 52.4
Republican Rita Topalian 24,240 47.6
Total votes 50,875 100.0
Democratic hold

2019 1st district special election[edit]

California SD-01 (2011).svg
2019 California's 1st State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Ted Gaines[2]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Dahle 57,725 29.6
Republican Kevin Kiley 54,290 27.9
Democratic Silke Pflueger 49,164 25.2
Republican Rex Hime 18,050 9.3
Democratic Steve Baird 10,855 5.6
Republican Theodore Dziuba 4,672 2.4
Total votes 194,756 100.0
General election
Republican Brian Dahle 84,503 53.9
Republican Kevin Kiley 72,169 46.1
Total votes 156,672 100.0
Republican hold

2019 33rd district special election[edit]

California SD-33 (2011).svg
2019 California's 33rd State Senate district special election
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Ricardo Lara[3]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lena Gonzalez 10,984 31.6
Republican Jack M. Guerrero 4,860 14.0
Democratic Ali Saleh 3,334 9.6
Democratic Ana Maria Quintana 3,038 8.8
Democratic José Luis Solache 2,594 7.5
Democratic Denise Diaz 2,404 6.9
Republican Martha Flores Gibson 2,225 6.4
Democratic Leticia Vasquez Wilson 1,839 5.3
Democratic Al Austin, II 1,356 3.9
Democratic Thomas Jefferson Cares 824 2.4
Democratic Chris Garcia 720 2.1
Green Cesar Flores 529 1.5
Total votes 34,711 100.0
General election
Democratic Lena Gonzalez 32,394 69.8
Republican Jack M. Guerrero 14,049 30.2
Total votes 46,443 100.0
Democratic hold

References[edit]