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SD labor leader may run for South Bay Assembly

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego's top labor leader said she plans to run for a South Bay Assembly seat, which might become available next year.

Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said in her announcement Wednesday night that she would run for the 80th Assembly District, should current office-holder Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, win a special election to fill the state Senate seat.

That seat was held by a new Congressman, the recently elected Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

The Assembly district encompasses south San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. Gonzalez is the first minority and first woman to lead the umbrella organization for all the unions in San Diego, representing around 200,000 workers.

"I've hammered out tough compromises between business and workers, between teachers and our school board, and between developers and environmentalists by putting practicality ahead of ideology," Gonzalez said. "That approach worked in San Diego County and it will work in Sacramento."

Gonzalez has been widely credited over the past month with organizing the Democratic sweep of major races in the general election in San Diego County, including the victory by new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

A special election will need to be called after Vargas takes his congressional seat on Jan. 3, and Hueso has already announced he will try to switch to the upper chamber of the Legislature.

She said if Hueso remains in the Assembly, she'll wait to run until 2016, when he is termed-out.

A single mother of two who lives in Sherman Heights, the Stanford alumna is the sister of environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez, whose lawsuits challenging fireworks displays have been in the news. Their parents were an immigrant farmworker and a nurse, she said.

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