Wesley G. Hughes, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/27/2010 09:35:57 PM PST

In one of his final acts as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday called a special primary election for Feb. 15 to fill the 17th State Senate District seat vacated by conservative George Runner, who is moving to the state Board of Equalization.

The deadline for filing for candidacy for the seat in the district, which cuts a swath across the northern sectors of San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, plus a minuscule piece of south Kern County, is 5 p.m. Jan. 3 – just a week away.

The general election between the two top vote-getters will be April 19.

The primary and general elections for the 17th District will be under the rules approved by voters in Proposition 14 last June, which allows voters to cast their ballots for any candidate regardless of party. Candidates will be allowed to choose whether to declare a party affiliation.

The primary will probably be the first in the state under the new rules, but the Secretary of State’s Office did not return calls to confirm it and other information.

Runner’s wife, Sharon, a Lancaster Republican, is expected to announce her candidacy for the vacant seat after she resigns from the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Her candidacy would follow a pattern. When George Runner termed out of the Assembly in 2002, she won and held the office until 2008, when she too was termed out.

Ron Wall, the chairman of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee, said no candidate is yet in sight, but his group is conferring with its counterparts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Wall said they had expected Schwarzenegger to call the election.

Filing will close on the day Schwarzenegger leaves office and Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown takes the oath as governor.

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