BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

Published: 25 May 2012 07:40 PM

SACRAMENTO — The campaign trail is mostly quiet in four Riverside County Assembly seats on the June 5 ballot where any potential for major action is in the fall.

Nowhere more so than in the county’s all-new 61st Assembly District, which includes the eastern half of Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris.

The district’s voting history favors Democrats. But there is no incumbent and both parties are expected to spend heavily to grab the seat, which overlaps the hotly contested 31st Senate and 41st Congressional districts.

Riverside teacher Jose Medina is the only Democrat in the four-person field. Medina, who ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly in 2000 and 2010, reported $123,000 on hand as of May 19, the end of the most recent campaign filing period.

Assembly Republicans recruited Moreno Valley Councilman Bill Batey, a firefighter. Batey, who has received significant financial support from firefighter unions around the country, had $44,000 cash on hand as of May 19.

Joe Ludwig, a member of the county Republican central committee, also is on the ballot. Filling out the four-person field is Fredy De Leon, a member of the Val Verde Unified School District Board of Education, who is registered no-party-preference. Neither Ludwig nor De Leon has filed campaign reports electronically.

Under California’s new primary system, the top two vote-getters next month will advance to November, regardless of their party affiliation.

In candidate questionnaires prepared for The Press-Enterprise, Batey and Ludwig opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed initiative to temporarily raise the sales tax and to increase the income tax on wealthy filers.

Ludwig called the plan a double whammy that will drive higher-income job creators out of California and squeeze the working class with a sales-tax hike.

Medina and De Leon said they support the governor’s plan. “Budget cuts alone can not, nor should they alone, close that deficit,” De Leon said.

To the east, next month’s vote in the 42nd Assembly District will be a warm-up for November.

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