By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer
A closely watched and hard-fought campaign ended Tuesday night when Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) lost to Republican challenger David Hadley.
With all 256 precincts reporting, Hadley had 41,807 votes (51.4 percent) to Muratsuchi’s 39,478 (48.6), a difference of 2,329 votes.
During Muratsuchi’s election-night party at Red Car Brewery in Torrance, which was packed with supporters, the race was too close to call, with the lead changing every time the results were updated. Around midnight, Muratsuchi was about 100 votes ahead of Hadley.
Muratsuchi did not make a statement at that time, noting that the final results would not be known right away. At press time, The Rafu had not yet received a comment.
Hadley, founder and president of Hadley Partners Inc., an investment banking firm in El Segundo, will represent the 66th Assembly District, which includes Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Harbor City, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates.
On his Facebook page, Hadley — who held his election-night party at Rock & Brews PCH in Redondo Beach — thanked “the South Bay army that made this happen.”
In the June primary, Hadley finished only 557 votes ahead of Muratsuchi. They advanced to the runoff under the “top-two” system even though there were no other candidates. Throughout the campaign, Muratsuchi emphasized that he was “fighting for my political life” and that “every vote will count.”
In the final weeks of the campaign, prominent Democrats spoke at rallies for Muratsuchi, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Rep. Janice Hahn, former Assembly Speaker John Perez, State Controller John Chiang, and former Assemblymember Warren Furutani.
Hadley’s backers included GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, former governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, Gardena Mayor Paul Tanaka, and former Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin.
In the final weeks of the campaign, district voters were inundated with mailers from both sides as well as political ads on TV. One of Muratsuchi’s mailers stated that Hadley “laundered more than $40,000 in illegal campaign contributions” and represents “Wall Street values, not South Bay values.” Another mailer said that Hadley “doesn’t belong in the Assembly. He belongs in jail.”
Hadley’s mailers charged that one of Muratsuchi’s bills “limited the testimony of children against their sexual predator teachers”; that Muratsuchi “voted to allow higher property taxes”; and that Muratsuchi “voted for over a dozen ‘job killer’ bills that are driving Toyota and other companies out of California.”
The assemblymember also touted his accomplishments, noting that he received a perfect score from the California League of Conservation Voters, was named California Legislator of the Year by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and received a 100 percent pro-choice rating from Planned Parenthood.
Muratsuchi said that he was at a disadvantage in getting his message out because billionaire Charles Munger Jr. had given $500,000 to support Hadley and “smear my name.”
Muratsuchi, who has served on the board of the Torrance Unified School District and as a deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice, was elected in 2012, defeating Republican Craig Huey.
At a reception in Little Tokyo last week, Muratsuchi said that if elected he would be the only Japanese American in the Legislature as Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) is termed out.
State Senate/Assembly Results
Several other Asian American candidates ran for seats in the State Legislature on Tuesday. Four Assembly incumbents were re-elected; one is going from the Assembly to the Senate; five newcomers were elected to the Assembly and one to the Senate. Following are results by district:
• 4th Senate District (Butte, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties): Republican Jim Nielsen, a rancher and small businessman, received 101,523 votes (64.1 percent), defeating Democrat CJ Jawahar, an engineer and educator, who received 56,848 (35.9 percent).
• 6th Senate District: Two Democratic members of the Assembly from Sacramento, Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan, faced off. Pan won with 65,859 votes (53.2 percent) to Dickinson’s 57,868 (46.8 percent).
• 10th Senate District: Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) easily defeated Republican Peter Kuo, a small businessman, 71,219 (67.9 percent) to 33,704 (32.1 percent).
• 24th Senate District: In another contest between Democrats, State Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) received a decisive 44,159 votes (66.7 percent) to Peter Choi’s 22,048 (33.3 percent). Choi is president and CEO of the Temple City Chamber of Commerce.
• 34th Senate District: Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, a Republican, defeated her Democratic opponent, former Assemblymember Jose Solorio, 73,140 (59.9 percent) to 48,866 (40.1 percent). Nguyen was the nation’s first Vietnamese American county supervisor and will be the nation’s first Vietnamese American state senator.
• 9th Assembly District: In a runoff between Democrats Jim Cooper, former Elk Grove mayor and Sacramento Sheriff’s Department captain, and Sacramento City Councilmember Darrell Fong, a former Sacramento police officer who is of Chinese and Japanese descent, Cooper emerged victorious with 34,270 votes (55.6 percent) to 27,384 (44.4 percent).
• 17th Assembly District: In a contest between two Democrats, both members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu finished first with 51,878 (51.9 percent) to David Campos’ 48,107 (48.1 percent).
• 18th Assembly District: Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), the first Filipino American elected to the Legislature, was returned to office by a landslide with 52,784 votes (85.4 percent) to Republican David Erlich’s 8,990 (14.6 percent).
• 19th Assembly District: Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) had a 3-to-1 win with 61,264 votes (76.3 percent) to Republican Rene Pineda’s 19,047 (23.7 percent).
• 25th Assembly District: Democrat Kansen Chu, a San Jose city councilman, received 36,231 votes (68.5 percent), defeating Republican Bob Brunton, who received 16,643 (31.5 percent).
• 28th Assembly District: Democrat Evan Low, a Campbell city councilman, beat Republican Chuck Page, a Saratoga city councilman, 44,833 (58.5 percent) to 31,858 (41.5 percent). In 2006, Low became Campbell’s first Asian American council member. He later became the nation’s youngest Asian American mayor and youngest openly gay mayor.
• 37th Assembly District: Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) was in first place with 55,025 votes (57.6 percent) to Republican real estate broker Ron Deblauw’s 40,557 (42.4 percent). Williams is the only Indo-American in the Legislature.
• 41st Assembly District: Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Claremont) turned back a challenge from Republican Nathaniel Tsai, 49,390 (58.3 percent) to 35,313 (41.7 percent). Tsai, a student at Claremont McKenna College, described himself as the youngest Californian to ever run for a California State Assembly seat.
• 49th Assembly District: Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) retained his seat with 25,259 votes (60.8 percent). Republican Esthela Torres Siegrist, a community college instructor, received 16,295 (39.2 percent).
• 55th Assembly District: Republican Ling-Ling Chang, Diamond Bar councilmember and former mayor, cruised to victory with 43,110 votes (63.6 percent), beating Democrat Gregg Fritchle, a social worker, who received 25,644 (36.4 percent).
• 60th Assembly District: Incumbent Eric Linder (R-Corona) defeated Democratic challenger Ken Park, 25,408 (61.7 percent) to 15,784 (38.3 percent). Born in South Korea, Park is a small business owner and a Realtor.
• 65th Assembly District: Republican Young Kim, a small businesswoman, received 33,049 votes (56.0 percent), unseating Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), who received 25,956 votes (44.0 percent). Kim will be the first Korean American Republican woman in the Legislature.