Political allies square off in California's 80th Assembly District

New 10News poll shows Gonzalez with slight lead

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Political allies are now adversaries in a hotly contested race for California's 80th Assembly District.

Labor leader Lorena Gonzalez and former Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Castaneda are both Democrats, and they are hoping to fill the seat made available when Ben Hueso won the available seat on the state Assembly.

Gonzalez and Castaneda are running in a special election on May 21. A laundry list of endorsements and her labor background have made Gonzalez the early leader.

"So I'd have to say it's a bit of a David-and-Goliath thing," Castaneda told 10News.

In a scientific 10News poll released Friday, 35 percent of those surveyed in the 80th District said they would vote for Gonzalez today. Castaneda is right behind her with 32 percent, and 33 percent of voters haven't decided.

*Click here to view the 10News poll

"I think it's great news," said Gonzalez from her campaign headquarters in Chula Vista.

Castaneda was also positive about the poll's results because he knows what he's up against.

"She clearly is one of the most powerful political figures in San Diego politics," he said.

"I don't think it's power. It's hard work and determination and getting things done," countered Gonzalez.

Oddly enough, Gonzalez endorsed Castaneda in his previous campaign runs in Chula Vista.

"Perhaps Mr. Castaneda was better than whoever he ran against at that time," explained Gonzalez.

This time, Castaneda is facing a formidable foe in San Diego's union leader. Castaneda said some have even asked him not to challenge Gonzalez.

"I've been asked to look at other offices and things like that, but this is where I live," said Castaneda.

Gonzalez said, "I think there's a lot of people who talked to Steve about the fact that he has a lot of stuff in his background that could come up and potentially hurt him in the future."

Gonzalez appeared to be referring to accusations a few years ago that Castaneda violated campaign finance laws. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.

"I think those people who care about Steve looked at that and said, 'Maybe you should take a pass on this one,'" said Gonzalez.

Castaneda said he's not passing and hopes to challenge Gonzalez for those 33 percent of undecided voters on May 21.

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