Four Republicans officially joined a lone Democrat in the suddenly competitive 23rd Assembly District, which has been a hotbed of political intrigue since incumbent Linda Halderman unexpectedly said last Friday that she wouldn't seek a second term.
The 23rd District and three others had their filing deadlines extended five days -- from last Friday to Wednesday -- because the incumbent decided not to seek re-election.
It was last-minute drama in the 23rd District as Clovis Republican Tal Eslick, who has been mulling a run, backed out. But it came with a caveat: Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson had to qualify as a candidate in the race. If that didn't happen, Eslick said he may get back in.
Patterson heightened the drama by waiting until the final 15 minutes to file his paperwork with the Fresno County Elections Office and pay the filing fees. Eslick was on standby at the elections office in case Patterson didn't show.
Eslick's decision came as Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier reached a similar decision.
"I am out," he said. "The [city's] problems are too great to walk away now."
The departure of Eslick and Olivier made it a five-person race for the newly created 23rd District, which covers north Fresno, all of Clovis, the eastern third of Fresno County and mountainous parts of Tulare County.
Besides Patterson, there's Fresno attorney David DeFrank and Clovis Council Member Bob Whalen, both Republicans, and Democrat Richard Rojas.
The final candidate is Clovis resident Vong Mouanoutoua, another Republican, who paid his filing fee and turned in his paperwork late Friday.
Heading into Wednesday, only Rojas had qualified, but as the day progressed, Whalen, DeFrank and finally Patterson and Mouanoutoua completed the process.
"Just talked to clerk's office and my signatures are all qualified and I'm good to go," DeFrank said around 2:30 p.m.
Besides the 23rd District, the other three races are Congressional District 21, Fresno County supervisorial District 2, and Fresno City Council District 2. But in those three races, no other candidates took advantage of the extra five days to file to run.
In the 21st Congressional District, Assembly Member David Valadao of Hanford is the lone Republican in the race. He will face Democrats Blong Xiong, a Fresno City Council member, and John Hernandez, chief executive of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in the primary election.
The top two will advance to the November general election.
In the City Council District 2, the candidates are small-business owner Steve Brandau, communications professional Randall Reed, business manager Sue Saigal, food manufacturer Pat Di Cicco and business owner Kelly Miller.
That is the same as Friday, when all five were already qualified for the ballot.
In that race, if one of the candidates can gain one more than 50% of the votes, the contest will be over. If not, the top two will advance to the November general election.
The District 2 Fresno County supervisorial battle to replace the retiring Susan Anderson is pitting three candidates against each other -- Fresno City Council Member Andreas Borgeas, real estate company owner Larry Fortune and substance-abuse counselor/nonprofit executive Deborah Harkness.
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