It's less than a week until the deadline to run for the 16th District state Senate seat that came open last month when Bakersfield Democrat Michael Rubio abruptly resigned.
And as the filing deadline approaches, the political jockeying is ramping up. The past five days, in particular, have been intense:
Florez in: Shafter City Council Member Fran Florez came to Fresno on Monday to officially announce she would seek the seat.
Florez, a Democrat, is the mother of Dean Florez, who held the seat before Rubio. She said she chose to make her official announcement in Fresno because it has more registered voters (137,000 in Fresno County) than any other part of the district. Kern County is next at about 75,000.
Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong introduced Florez, and one person standing behind her was Dave Wilson of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. He said he personally supported Florez and would work to get the UFCW behind her, as well.
Perez in: Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez announced her candidacy Monday, too. She is a Democrat and used to work for Rubio.
The next day, Perez got the backing of the Senate's Democratic leadership team -- including President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg -- and some of its most influential senators. That support seemed like a slap in the face to Dean Florez -- back in 2008, Steinberg named Florez the Senate majority leader.
The Bakersfield Californian on Friday reported a wrinkle for Perez -- she lives outside the district. It's the same issue that Rubio faced during his own run for the seat in 2010. And in both instances, Kern County elections chief Karen Rhea said, an agreement with the state makes their neighborhood eligible to vote in the district even though it's outside the lines.
Vidak emerges: Hanford's Andy Vidak spent the week raising money. By Friday, he had collected close to $90,000 in campaign donations, according to the Secretary of State's website.
Almost all of the cash to date has come from agriculture, though Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Tulare also chipped in $4,100 from her 2018 state Senate account.
By Friday, Perez had reported some cash of her own -- $8,200 from state Sen. Kevin De Leon's 2018 Assembly account.
Yep out, others possible: On Thursday, Kerman Mayor Gary Yep announced he wouldn't run for the 16th District seat.
The list of people who have at least pulled campaign papers includes John Estrada, Francisco Ramirez Jr., Jerry Armendariz and Arif Mohammad.
Mohammad listed himself as an immigrant-rights organizer and member of the Peace and Freedom Party. Ramirez and Armendariz didn't share details in their online forms.
Correction: Due to an editing error, John Estrada's party affiliation was incorrectly listed in the original version of this report. Estrada has registered Democrat in the past but did not list a party when he pulled papers for the state Senate race.
-- John Ellis
McCarthy plans Fresno fundraiser next month
A little more than a month ago, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy quietly came to Fresno, where he briefed prominent area business and agriculture leaders on Washington's political climate.
Now, the Bakersfield Republican is coming back -- but this time with hat in hand.
He will attend an April 3 "reception and buffet supper" fundraiser for his congressional campaign at the north Fresno home of businessman Bob Smittcamp, who also attended last month's briefing.
That briefing was hosted by local businessman Richard Spencer at his Harris Construction office near Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
Spencer and wife Karen also are among those co-hosting the $1,000 per person event along with Smittcamp. Other sponsors include Linda and Bill Smittcamp, west-side rancher David Wood and the California Westside Farmers Federal PAC.
Borba Farms Partners, which includes Mark and Derek Borba, Woolf Enterprises and Westside Harvesting, which is tied to farmer, developer and beer distributor Ed Donaghy, are some of the donors who in 2012 gave money to the California Westside Farmers PAC.
-- John Ellis
Linn to challenge Madera DA Keitz
Attorney David Linn announced plans to run against incumbent Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz in the June 2014 primary.
Linn, 64, is married to Betty Linn, publisher of the Sierra Star in Oakhurst. The Star is owned by The McClatchy Co. and printed at The Fresno Bee.
"My goal is to run the DA's office like a business without getting sued by the employees," said Linn, referring to Keitz running up nearly $1.4 million in taxpayer-footed legal bills in settling civil lawsuits filed by two former prosecutors and a secretary in the past three years.
Keitz, 58, also has sued the Madera County Board of Supervisors to stop the release of a report that could be critical of him. A judge is mulling whether to grant the supervisors' request to make the report public.
Four years ago, supervisors hand-picked Keitz to take over for District Attorney Ernest LiCalsi, who was elected to the bench. Keitz ran unopposed in the 2010 election. A telephone call to him was not returned.
-- Pablo Lopez