Carol Liu, Democratic candidate for the 25th State Senate District, has been safe in her old 21st Senate District, winning easily. But now, with the addition of Sierra Madre, Arcadia, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendora, and other Foothill communities that now make up the newly drawn district, will these Republican strongholds support a first-time newcomer, Gilbert V. Gonzales?
Democrat Liu has served six years in the California State Assembly and is currently serving as State Senator in the 21st District—a district that will be abolished as the newly drawn 25th District election looms. Liu is now candidate for State Senator for the 25th District.
Gilbert V. Gonzales is the Republican candidate and he is a first-time candidate.
Given Liu's name-recognition in the Foothill region she has represented for so long, she would seem to be a shoe-in for this race that the Democrats are slathering to win with the goal of attaining a two-thirds majority in the State Senate.
Voter registration in the newly formed district is said to be 41% Democrat and 32.2% Republican. But, a look at city registration figures provided by the Los Angeles County Registrars office for 2004, show that many of the smaller cities registered voters that make up the new district favor the Republican Party.
Sierra Madre, in 2004, had 3,274 registered Republicans and 2,684 Democrats and 1,180 Declined to State. Arcadia's 27,330 registered voters favored the Republican Party 12,084 to the Democrat's 7,516; there were 6,880 Declined to State voters. Monrovia's 17,911 registered voters were close to evenly split with 6,946 Republicans, 7,222 Democrats, and 2,927 Declined to State. La Cañada Flintridge had 13,496 registered with 7,482 Republicans, 3,610 Democrats and 2,037 Declined to State.
Even Pasadena with its 70,747 registered voters counted 21,319 Republicans, 34,421 Democrats, a plurality for sure, but 12,134 Declined to State, is an outsized number.
This would seem to be a set-up for a steamy race. But neither Liu nor Gonzales has come out fighting. They have strong positions, for sure, but their campaigns have been more about caution than bluster.
Liu, a resident of La Cañada Flintridge, began her political career as a city councilwoman in her city, including two terms as Mayor there. The middle-school and high school teacher brings plenty of muscle to the job given her on-the-job training in both the State Assembly and, currently, the Senate. But the shift of demographics within the new district could complicate this current Senate race.
Gonzales, who lives in Pasadena, is on an upward path in both his public and private careers. The Fresno native tells a compelling story of his early life as an impoverished youth who pulled himself up to obtain a BA in political and media studies from Claremont's Pitzer College. He is not a political novice in that he served as legislative director for State Senator Bob Dutton and in the Economic Administration of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa. In business, he worked for two real estate firms, and recently, Gonzales joined Vons/Safeway as Director of Public and Government Affairs. But his name recognition is weak even for dedicated Republican voters.
Liu's positions are those of the Democrats in Sacramento; Gonzales positions are in line with those of the Republican Party generally.
As of Oct. 5, Liu's campaign had raised $333,963.56 with a balance of cash on hand of $194,561.27. Gonzales had raised $103,399.72 and shows a balance of cash on hand (also Oct. 5) of $54,169.12.
The race between Liu and Gonzales is unusual with the complexity of their lack of general name recognition for either candidate. In the Foothill communities that now make up State Senate District 25, the decidedly Republican tilt—and usual heavy voter turnout in the these areas, could make the race a gripper.