State Senator Jenny Oropeza, who championed public health legislation and was expected to easily win reelection next month, died Wednesday night of complications from a blood clot. She was 53.
The Democratic lawmaker represented Long Beach, first in the state Assembly and later in the state Senate. Diagnosed with liver cancer in 2004, Oropeza's health battles prompted her to push for bills that would reduce toxins and pollutants in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. She successfully introduced legislation to restrict radiation exposure and increase the safety of mammograms. Oropeza sought, unsuccessfully, to ban smoking at state parks and beaches. (One happy coincidence: The day before her death, Long Beach banned smoking at all city parks.)
The late state senator developed a blood clot in her abdomen in May. The clot led to a common side effect, a buildup of fluid in her lungs that affected breathing, according to press secretary Ray Sotero. She passed away at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
Oropeza's name remains on the Nov. 2 ballot; the governor will call a special election if the majority of voters still go with her. The other candidates running for the seat are Republican John Stammreich, an aerospace contracts manager, and Libertarian David Ruskin, a physician.
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A public funeral for Oropeza has been scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m., at Forest Lawn in Cypress.