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RIVERSIDE — Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez won a special election Tuesday to fill a Southern California state Senate seat.

Melendez got about 56% of 170,000 votes counted and defeated Democrat Elizabeth Romero, a member of the Riverside County Board of Education and administrator at the University of California, Riverside.

Melendez replaces fellow Republican Jeff Stone, who resigned his 28th Senate District seat last year to take a Trump administration post in the Labor Department. The district covers a wide swath of Riverside County, including the Coachella Valley.

Melendez, a Navy veteran and former mayor of Lake Elsinore, has served in the Assembly since 2012. She has been a strong supporters of President Donald Trump and sat next to him at a 2018 White House meeting about California’s “sanctuary state” law for immigrants in the country illegally.

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