Race for Rubios former State Senate Seat off to slow start

March 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the election little more than two months away, the list of potential candidates for the District 16 seat in the California State Senate remains small.

A Fresno County Supervisor is out, while a Kings County Supervisor appears to be in.

The district includes parts of Fresno, Kern, and Tulare Counties, and all of Kings County. Sizable chunks of Bakersfield and Fresno are included.

Kings County Cherry Farmer Andy Vidak says he's running. He told Action News he's working the phones, seeking donations to get the campaign started. Vidak who is a Republican made a name for himself in a losing effort against incumbent democrat Congressman Jim Costa in the 2012 congressional race.

Fresno State Political Science Professor David Schecter told Action News, "Vidak would be a very viable candidate. I mean he's run these kinds of races before. So he has a rolodex in place that could help him win an election in a short time frame."

But Schecter notes, Democrats have a nearly 20% edge in voter registration in the district. "It should be an easy win for Democrats in terms of the registration if the voters do what they are registered to do and the turnout reflects the registration then you will see a democratic leaning in this seat."

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle is a Democrat. He tells Action News he is very close to making a decision on whether to run.

The special election for the state senate seat will be held on May 21st and Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth says a challenge will be to let the voters who live in the Fresno City limits know when and where to vote, since they will also be getting ballots for the city garbage election which will be just two weeks later, in June.

"There are about 74 thousand registered voters that overlap that are in both districts and so its those folks were going to try and get the message out very clear on our vote by mail material." Orth says the ballots for each election will likely be color coded.

One of those out of the running is Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea. He told Action News on Friday he was considering going for the seat. But on Monday said he had advised the Senate leadership he was not going to do it. His son, Assembly Member Henry T. Perea had also considered running but decided against it.

Another Democrat considering a run for the seat is newly elected Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

Schecter says the puzzling thing about this race is the small pool of candidates so far.

"This is an open State Senate seat. This comprises more individuals than a Congressional seat. It's important, so why the parties have not stepped up and had more candidates coming in on both sides is really surprising to me," said Schecter. "It shows me they don't have much of a bench, that neither party has worked to recruit candidates. In other states if you've got an open state senate seat you would see lots and lots of people on both sides clawing each other's eyes out to try and win a seat like this."

Any potential candidates for the seat have until March 29th to officially declare their candidacy with the clerk in their county.


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