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Calif. Republican Loses to Dead Democrat

November 3, 2010

Death has no political sting in California.

Exhibit A: even though Jenny Oropez died last month, the Democrat easily won re-election to California’s State Senate, defeating John Stammerich, her Republican challenger, by a 58-35 margin.

Oropeza died from complications due to a blood clot on October 20, which was too late to replace her on the ballot.

As one might expect in an election where a deceased candidate wins, controversy abounds. According to the Daily Breeze, Sammerich has filed charges against the state‘s Democratic Party and Secretary of State because of a questionable mailer sent in the election’s twilight:

The tone of the campaign for the 28th District turned sour on its final day, with Stammreich and the California Republican Party filing complaints accusing the Democratic Party and Secretary of State Debra Bowen of using a late-hour campaign mailing to “illegally influence” voters to cast a ballot for Oropeza.

The correspondence, titled “Election Information,” was sent via mail to Democratic and decline-to-state voters and outlined what would happen if Oropeza won.

The mailing closed with Bowen’s name and title.

Republicans allege that the mailing purports to be an official document and thus violates a section of the California Penal Code prohibiting publishing a campaign advertisement that falsely depicts official documents.

“The Republicans are trying to take unfair advantage of Jenny’s tragedy,” the mailer said. “They suggest that voting for Jenny will only result in a costly Special Election. I am asking you to vote for Jenny Oropeza. If a Special Election is called in a few months, you’ll have the chance to thoughtfully elect your Senator for a new four-year term.”

Sammerich pointed out the mailer‘s careful attempt to frame Oropeza’s death only as a tragedy, which he says is misleading. A special election will not be held to fill the seat, which means Sammerich still has a chance.

However, Daily Breeze reports, “The process could cost [taxpayers] millions of dollars.”

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