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Chu Has Financial Edge in California Special

California Board of Equalization Chairwoman Judy Chu (D) has the financial edge in the special House election to replace Hilda Solis, the new secretary of Labor. But whether that translates into victory is another matter.

According to campaign finance statements released Wednesday night, Chu had raised $824,000 for the May 19 special primary through the end of March and ended the month with $578,000 in cash on hand. Her chief rival, state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D), reported raising $568,000 and banking $441,000.

Financial consultant Emanuel Pleitez (D), who is emphasizing his grass-roots support in his campaign, raised $153,000 and had $107,000 on hand as of March 31.

In all, 20 candidates from four different political parties have submitted petitions to appear on the all-party primary ballot. If no candidate tops 50 percent of the vote on May 19, the top vote-getters from each party advance to a special runoff in July. Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to hold the 32nd district seat, which covers East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.

Solis is officially neutral in the primary, but some of her top advisers and family members are supporting Chu. That could prove crucial in a district that would appear to favor Cedillo on paper, because about half the voters are Latino. However, nine of the 20 candidates have Hispanic surnames, and the Latino vote is not expected to be monolithic. One of the Hispanic candidates is Benita Duran (D), a former top aide to Solis who entered the race after March 31 and did not file a campaign finance statement.

But Chu faces some peril on the ballot as well, as a businesswoman named Betty Chu (R) has also entered the race.

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