November 3rd, 2010
01:17 PM ET

Deceased candidate wins state Senate seat in California

Democrat Jenny Oropeza won re-election as a state senator in California, but the implications of her victory Tuesday won't be known for some time.

Oropeza, 53, died two weeks before the election from a blood clot after battling cancer. But the incumbent remained on the ballot, winning by a decent margin - 58 percent to 36 percent over Republican John Stammreich.

Democrats continued to ask voters to check Oropeza's name on the ballot after her death through mailers. Some Republicans filed a complaint that the mailer was an attempt to "illegally influence" voters.

The Democratic mailer suggested that Republicans were trying to capitalize on the situation.

"The Republicans are trying to take unfair advantage of Jenny’s tragedy," said the mailer without mentioning Oropeza's death. "They suggest that voting for Jenny will only result in a costly Special Election. I am asking you to vote for Jenny Oropeza. If a Special Election is called in a few months, you’ll have the chance to thoughtfully elect your Senator for a new four-year term."

CNN affiliate KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reports that Oropeza's name remained on the ballot because she died so close to the election.

So why encourage people to vote for her? Democrats likely hoped that at least they would get the chance to nominate a new Democratic candidate. And that's likely what will happen, KTLA reports, saying Oropeza's seat will be declared vacant, and a special election will be called in December.

At the time of this posting, CNN had not been able to reach the California Democratic Party for comment.

It's not the first time a deceased candidate has won an election against an opponent. The late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan collected enough votes to beat Republican incumbent John Ashcroft for his U.S. Senate in 2000.

The popular governor died in a plane crash on October 16, 2000. By that time, it was too late to remove Carnahan's name from the ballot. His wife, Jean Carnahan, was appointed to his seat and served two years before losing in a special election.

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. stix213

    Proof Democrat voters are just that stupid. Adolf Hitler would win if he was put on the ballot with a freaking "D" next to his name.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • redhead

      Couldn't agree with you more. Diehard Dems would vote for anything, as long as it was marked Democrat. But voting for a dead person is a pretty desperate and totally stupid move. In all reality, those ballots should have been fixed to remove that vote from a straight ticket vote. Individually, all they had to do is remove the name with a black marker if they were not automatic ballots. Obviously new voting laws need to be established.

      November 4, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. dem4life

    Just goes to show, even a dead democrat has better ideas than the live republicans scare tactics. Amazing how the fascists keep comparing Obama to Hitler. Took 8 years to nearly destroy this country now they want it fixed in 2. I wonder who they'll blame next election.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tom

    Her votes should NOT be allowed. Voters knew she was dead. The DNC knew it and just wanted to insure they'd get a ringer in on her votes. Sammreich should be installed as Senator because he's the only LIVING SURVIVOR of the contest!

    November 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ncjd

    Smart people who can think for themselves always vote for Democrats.

    All across the country, stupid people voted against their own economic interests by voting for Republicans, the party of putting corporations ahead of people.

    A dead Democrat Senator beats a live Republican Senator any day.

    November 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JustAsSimpleAsItIs

    Californians don't want republicans as their senator.

    November 8, 2010 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. dem4life

    I think the message couldn't have been any clearer. We don't want a republican senator period.

    November 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
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