Al Muratsuchi addresses supporters at the Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance, with his wife Hiroko Higuchi and 3-year-old daughter Sophia. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday with additional comments from the candidates.
Democrat Al Muratsuchi defeated Republican Craig Huey in Tuesday’s election to represent the 66th Assembly District in Sacramento. Muratsuchi, a Torrance Board of Education member and prosecutor, won with 73,505 votes or 53.8 percent compared to Huey’s 63,217 votes or 46.2 percent.
“We knew from the get-go it was going to be one of the most competitive races in the entire state,” Muratsuchi told supporters at the Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance before all the votes were in. “We knew it was going to be a real dog fight. Sometimes, it got uglier than it should have gotten. But we are proud of the fight we have been waging.”
The California Secretary of State’s Office tallied the vote throughout the night from the district’s 275 precincts. Muratsuchi declared victory shortly after midnight.
The race was hotly contested, with Muratsuchi raising more than $1.7 million and Huey more than $1 million from Jan. 1 to Oct. 20, according to the Secretary of State.
Muratsuchi spent much of the money on cable TV ads, phone calls and mailers attacking Huey for being too radical for the South Bay, including that he wants to privatize social security.
At Buffalo Wild Wings in the Del Amo Fashion Center Tuesday night before all the precincts’ votes had been counted, Huey said he was outspent four to one by Muratsuchi.
“The Democrats want a two-thirds majority in Sacramento, so they dumped all this money into the race,” said Huey, a small business owner from Rolling Hills Estates.
Told that Muratsuchi said the race got uglier than it should have, Huey said, “That’s his fault. I’m pretty proud of our campaign.”
On Wednesday, after the election results were finalized, Huey said, “I’m disappointed, but it is what it is and we move forward. I support Al and his family and will support him any way I can.”
Huey said he plans to return to running his Torrance marketing business and did not rule out another run at elected office.
On Wednesday, Muratsuchi said his campaign was successful because his message came through. Muratsuchi added that Huey established his conservative reputation when he was defeated for congress against Janice Hahn last year.
“We were not the first to let South Bay voters know that he’s out of touch,” Muratsuchi said. “South Bay voters wanted someone with the reputation and record of being a problem solver instead of being an ideologue.”
The newly-drawn district runs from Manhattan Beach to Rancho Palos Verdes, including the Beach Cities and Lomita, Torrance and Gardena. According to state registration records, 39.1 percent of voters in the district call themselves Democrat while 34.7 percent call themselves Republican. The rest identify with another political party or do not state an affiliation.
Political observers said the election would be settled by the swing vote, which went for Muratsuchi, who finished with 10,288 more votes than Huey.