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South Bay Gears Up For District 40 State Senate Race Tuesday

Phil Saenz, a political science professor at Southwestern College, talks to KPBS about the race to represent California Senate District 40.


Phil Saenz, Political science instructor, Southwestern College


Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for a new state senator from the 40th district in San Diego and Imperial Counties. The special election is to fill the seat vacated by Juan Vargas, who was elected to Congress last November.

Four candidates, two Democrats and two Republicans, are running for the seat: Democrat Ben Hueso, Democrat Anna Nevenic, Republican Hector Gastelum, and Republican Xanthi Gionis.

Phil Saenz, a political science professor at Southwestern College, moderated a debate between the candidates on Friday. He told KPBS none of the candidates offered specific plans during the debate on how to create jobs.

All four candidates are supportive of increasing education funding, and all four support the California DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for financial aid, Saenz said.

Saenz said Hueso has the most name recognition and fundraising of the four, so he is favored to win. If no one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the election will go to a runoff in May. But Saenz said he does not expect that to happen.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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