Filing deadline approaches for two California State Assembly special elections

Candidates interested in running in special elections for California State Assembly Districts 17 and 49 have until Dec. 22 to file. The primary election for both races is scheduled for Feb. 15, and the general election is set for April 19.

California uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot. A candidate can win the special election outright by earning more than 50% of the vote in the primary. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

The special election in District 17 became necessary after David Chiu (D) was appointed as San Francisco City Attorney and was sworn in on Nov. 1. Chiu served from 2014 to 2021. Meanwhile, in District 49, the election was called after Edwin Chau (D) was appointed to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County and resigned on Dec. 10. Chau served from 2012 to 2021.

California has a Democratic trifecta, meaning that the Democratic Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Democrats have a 58 to 19 majority in the state Assembly with one independent member and two vacancies.

As of December 2021, 15 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in nine states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. California held 32 special elections from 2010 to 2020.