By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 – 4:28 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 – 7:45 am
A relative handful of voters in the San Joaquin Valley may be deciding – whether they know it or not – effective control of the state Senate.
Mail voting is already under way in the 16th Senate District and by last Friday about 20,000 ballots had already been received, perhaps a third of the eventual total, with Democratic voters slightly more numerous.
The voting ends on July 23 and will decide an expensive and increasingly heated runoff between Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County supervisor, and Republican rancher Andy Vidak, who came within 114 votes of winning the seat outright in May despite the district’s big Democratic voter margin.
The 16th SD, running from Fresno to Bakersfield, no longer exists; the state redistricting commission replaced it with a new 14th Senate District.
However, since Democrat Michael Rubio was elected in the old 16th SD, his resignation to become a Chevron Corp. executive triggered a special election there.
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