Updated below; first posted at 9:03 pm
Early returns in tonight's most specialist election, the City Council Dstrict 6 special election, puts Cindy Montanez in first place with 46 percent of the vote, with Nury Martinez in a distant second with 18 percent.
The contest, which will choose a replacement for the now-Congressman Tony Cardenas, is an open primary. If Montanez manages to get 50 percent of the vote, she'll win the race outright. If no one reaches the 50 percent threshold, the two candidates with the most votes will face each other in a July 23 runoff.
This East Valley free-for-all includes no less than six candidates: school board member Martinez, former State Assembly member Montanez, businessman Jose Roy Garcia, 23-year-old Walter Escobar, You Tube sensation Derek Waleko and blood drive organizer Richard Valdez.
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There's a real chance that come July 1, when the new City Council is sworn in (and most likely sworn at), there will be no women at all in the 15-member body. The two frontrunners in this race, Martinez and Montanez, have the best chance of breaking into the all-boys club.
The race is also notable for being the latest in a series of pitched battles between two warring political clans, one headed by state Senator Alex Padilla and ex-Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, the other headed by outgoing city Councilman Richard Alarcon. Martinez is the preferred candidate of the Padilla / Fuentes faction; Montanez has the blessing of the House of Alarcon.
Update, 10:00 pm Over 160,000 ballots have been cast city wide, a fairly large number. It could about a third of all votes, if the LA Times' prediction of 445,000 votes turns out to be correct.
Update, 11:40 pm With 17 percent of precincts reporting, Cindy Montanez's lead is holding firm at 45 percent. Nury Martinez, meanwhile, is solidifying her second place finish with 21 percent. This looks headed for the inevitable Montinez / Martanez runoff we expected.