By Jesse Franz
California State Senator Michael Rubio has resigned prompting a special election for the state’s 16th Senatorial District, which includes part of Fresno County.
Although the special election’s date is not yet certain, already speculation on who will run to replace Rubio is in overdrive. Early rumors had favored Assembly Member Henry T. Perea. However, in a statement released last week, Perea said, “While the opportunity to serve in the California State Senate is appealing, I made a commitment to my constituents to serve and meet the needs of my Assembly district. I also made a commitment to my wife and family to create a balance between my home life and work.”
However, at least three other Democratic candidates have expressed interest in the seat. Fran Florez, former 30th Assembly District candidate, though she hasn’t officially announced, released a statement through social media saying, “I know those who are considering throwing their hat into the ring to replace Michael Rubio, and I feel that I am the only candidate in this group who is familiar with and has run in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. I have the name recognition and base of support to bring this home for the Democratic Party. No doubt, the polls will prove this. So, expect an announcement soon that will ensure that the Senate leadership has the best candidate in the base of our district.”
Another highly speculated candidate is Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. In a statement, she said, “This is not an easy decision, and my family and I recognize that we will face a mountain of criticism no matter what choice we make. This weekend I will be in close contact with my family, friends, and closest advisers to determine what is the right decision in these very unexpected circumstances, I will announce my decision after the Governor makes an announcement regarding the special election. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Former member of the Hanford High School Board Alfred Benavides has already announced that he will seek the seat. He told the Hanford Sentinel, “I’m probably the biggest long shot in the race,” and said that he plans to run a grassroots campaign.
The Republican field is not quite so clear. Names like Delano Republican Pedro Rios and Bakersfield City Council Member Russell Johnson have surfaced. However, many Republican strategists like former Assembly member and Democrat turned no party preference Nicole Parra.
Whoever runs will be doing so in the 2010 lines of the 16th Senatorial district and will hold the seat at least until the 2014 midterm election. During the special election, if one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, he/she will win the seat. However, if the winner in not so clear, then there will be a runoff to determine the winner of the seat. Political speculators believe that the latter is more probable considering the large pool that is expected to campaign for the office.