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California State Senate
Last year, the state legislature eliminated single-family zoning and created a reparations task force. There are eight State Senate seats up for election in L.A. County this year.
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What does a California state senator do?

The California State Senate is one-half of our state legislature. Along with the Assembly, it essentially serves as California’s Congress.

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

  • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
  • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

How to evaluate judges

California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

State lawmakers draft and pass laws that govern the entire state. These laws can provide benefits that aren’t granted by the federal government, such as paid family leave or in-state tuition for undocumented college students. They can impose rules that apply statewide, like restrictions on buying guns, prohibiting recording calls without consent, or not allowing restaurants to provide single-use plastic straws unless a customer requests it. They can also set minimum standards for the state and allow cities and counties to go further — for instance, the state minimum wage is $15 an hour for businesses with more than 25 employees, but the city of L.A.’s hourly minimum wage went up to $16.04 in July 2022.

The State Senate has 40 districts, 15 of them in L.A. County. State Senators serve four-year terms, with half of the seats going up for election every two years. No member of the legislature can serve more than 12 years total.

If you’ve voted in previous elections, your Senate district may have changed because of last year’s redistricting process, which happens once a decade after the Census count. You can enter your address into this tool from CalMatters to see whether your district has changed.

Around three-quarters of lawmakers in both California’s Assembly and State Senate are Democrats, meaning we don’t just have Democratic majorities, but supermajorities. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to pass bills, though. There are still divisions among lawmakers that lead to drawn-out arguments and prevent legislation from moving forward.

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In recent years, the legislature has:

What’s on the agenda for the next term?

California has a lot of problems to tackle — wildfires, climate change, the highest poverty rate in the country, skyrocketing housing prices, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and falling enrollment in public schools and community colleges, to name a few. The legislature will have to figure out ways to address all of these issues and accommodate whatever new problems may arise.

Where do they go from here?

Seats in the state legislature don’t get a lot of attention, but they’re good resume-building positions that can propel people to prominent positions in local, state and federal government. Former state senators include U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and L.A. County Supervisors Holly Mitchell, Sheila Kuehl, and Hilda Solis (all three supervisors were also assemblymembers).

More reading


The Candidates

Below are the candidates still in the running for eight State Senate seats in L.A. County. We’ve listed each candidate’s title, party affiliation, campaign website, and campaign contributions where information was available. For incumbent senators, we’ve also included links to their profiles in CalMatters’ Legislator tracker.

The candidates you see on your November ballot are the two who received the most votes in the June 7 primary, regardless of their party affiliation. Some of the races have only one candidate on the ballot. The person who wins the most votes in November is the one elected to office.

Two races in L.A. County are considered highly competitive: District 20 and District 30.


District 20

From CalMatters’ 2022 Voter Guide:

Hot race / Safe Democratic

The District
Spanning the San Fernando Valley, from Canoga Park to Burbank to Sylmar, this district is the northern, ranch home-dotted outer edge of the city of Los Angeles.

Voter registration: 53.2% Democratic, 16.2% Republican, 24.1% no party preference

The Scoop
Primary results: Daniel Hertzberg 30.8%, Caroline Menjivar 29.8%

A family affair? Sen. Bob Hertzberg has reached his term limit and is trying to pass the torch to his 31-year-old son, a first-time candidate and sales manager at a South Bay DoubleTree hotel. The outgoing senator’s approach seems to be working: The younger Hertzberg quickly amassed dozens of establishment endorsements, including the backing of the party during the primary, plus an overwhelming amount of campaign cash. Good news for the Hertzberg clan: He came first in the primary.

The bad news: So did another Democrat. Menjivar finished four percentage points ahead of a Republican, denying Hertzberg an easy general election victory in this Democratic district. A Marine veteran and a former representative for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in the East Valley, Menjivar has emphasized her local roots and the fact that she is a Latina running for what is now a Latino-majority district, while also characterizing the younger Hertzberg for being the beneficiary of rank nepotism.

This has all made things a bit awkward for the Democratic Party. While most Sacramento elected officials have backed Hertzberg, perhaps out of respect or deference to the candidate’s father who has served as both Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker, many local Democratic activists and progressive groups have sided with Menjivar. And with Sen. Hertzberg running in an overlapping Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors district against progressive Lindsey Horvath, this contest has become part of a larger region-wide clash pitting a nascent political dynasty against two newcomers from the left.

Daniel Hertzberg

Businessman (Democratic)

More resources:

  • Read more about Daniel Hertzberg's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Caroline Menjivar

Non-Profit Program Director (Democratic)

More resources:

  • Read more about Caroline Menjivar's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 22

Susan Rubio

State Senator/Teacher (Democratic)

Campaign website: susanrubio.com
State Senate website: sd22.senate.ca.gov
Contributions: See all campaign contributions via the California Secretary of State website
Endorsements: List of endorsements(Campaign website)

More resources:

Vincent Tsai

Deputy Sheriff (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Vincent Tsai's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 24

Ben Allen

California State Senator (Democratic)

Campaign website: benallenca.com
State Senate website: sd26.senate.ca.gov
Contributions: See all campaign contributions via the California Secretary of State website
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Voter's Edge)

More resources:

Kristina Irwin

no title (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Kristina Irwin's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 26

Maria Elena Durazo

State Senator (Democratic)

Claudia Agraz

Community Outreach Organizer (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Claudia Agraz's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 28

Lola Smallwood-Cuevas

Educator/Community Organizer (Democratic)

More resources:

  • Read about Lola Smallwood-Cuevas' priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Cheryl C. Turner

Civil Rights Lawyer (Democratic)

More resources:

  • Read more about Cheryl Turner's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 30

This was a competitive primary race for the Democratic candidacy. However, with 49.3% of voters registered as Democrats and only 21% registered as Republicans, according to CalMatters, the general election is not expected to be competitive.

Bob Archuleta

California State Senator (Democratic)

More resources:

Mitch Clemmons

Plumber/Business Owner (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Mitch Clemmons' priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

District 34

Rhonda Shader

Mayor/Small Businesswoman (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Rhonda Shader's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Tom Umberg

Senator/Small Businessperson (Democratic)

Campaign website: none found
State Senate website: sd34.senate.ca.gov/
Contributions: See all campaign contributions via the California Secretary of State website
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Voter's Edge)


District 36

Kim Carr

City of Huntington Beach Councilmember (Democratic)

More resources:

  • Read more about Kim Carr's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Janet Nguyen

California Assemblymember/Businesswoman (Republican)

More resources:

  • Read more about Janet Nguyen's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

More reading about this race:

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

  • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
  • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

How to evaluate judges

California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.