Although a few Democrats have said they will run for the 28th Senate District seat left vacant by the death of Jenny Oropeza, only one - former Assemblyman Ted Lieu - could be verified as a resident of the district.

Oropeza, a Long Beach Democrat, died Oct. 20, too late to be removed from the November ballot. Two weeks later she won re-election to the district that stretches from Venice to Long Beach.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday ordered an April 19 special election to pick her successor. But a primary will be held Feb. 15. The deadline to file nomination documents is Jan. 3.

The special election will be conducted under the open primary rules detailed in Proposition 14, which was approved by voters in June. All candidates will run on the same ballot, and unless one wins more than 50 percent in the primary, the top two vote-getters - regardless of party - will advance to a runoff.

Besides Lieu, Hollywood producer Brian Quintana has said he is "exploring a run" for the seat, and perennial candidate Merv Evans, a business consultant, has also announced his candidacy.

Contacted by phone, Evans declined three times to give his address to verify he is a resident of the 28th District.

He said he preferred to see "how the field plays out" before he makes a final decision on whether he will run.

According to JoinCalifornia.com, which tracks the state's election history, in the 2010 election cycle alone Evans announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor, controller, treasurer, U.S. senator, the 33rd Congressional District, the 48th Assembly District, U.S. senator in Hawaii and the 1st Congressional District in Hawaii. He also was a write-in candidate for the 47th Assembly District and received one vote in the general election.

Quintana, who challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer in the June primary, could not be reached Friday but his voter registration, confirmed through the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's Office, was at a Boyle Heights residence in the 22nd Senate District.

Lieu, a Torrance resident, began his bid to replace Oropeza on Nov. 5 and since then has been busy lining up a formidable chain of endorsements.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Assemblyman Warren Furutani, considered potential Democratic challengers to Lieu, have each removed their names from consideration in the race and offered endorsements to him.

The 28th Senate District is heavily gerrymandered in favor of Democrats, who hold a 23-point voter registration advantage over Republicans. The disparity may serve as a deterrent to GOP candidates.

Indeed, Republican John Stammreich, the runner-up to Oropeza in the Nov. 2 election, initially said he would run but changed his mind, saying he preferred to focus on the upcoming redistricting of political boundaries before determining his next campaign.

Lieu is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve's Judge Advocate General's Corps. He served on the Torrance City Council before he was elected to the Assembly in a 2005 special election to replace Mike Gordon, who died less than a year into his first term in office.

Lieu, 41, ran unsuccessfully this year for state attorney general, losing the party primary to eventual winner Kamala Harris, San Francisco's former district attorney.

eric.bradley@dailybreeze.com