Former Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway of Tulare is dropping her bid for state Senate and will instead seek election to the Board of Equalization next year.
Conway, a Republican, had long had her eye on the Senate District 16 seat that’s currently held by Republican Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield, who terms out next year.
But Conway wasn’t the only person interested in succeeding Fuller. Former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, a Republican, also plans to seek the seat.
The district includes much of Bakersfield and Kern County, while only a small part is in Tulare County where Conway has her base of support, so it appears Grove has the inside track.
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Meanwhile, the Board of Equalization District 1 seat, currently held by former Sen. George Runner, will be an open seat because Runner terms out next year.
The district covers a large area of eastern and central California from the Oregon border and into Los Angeles County.
“I don’t look at it as backing down, I see it as a larger challenge,” Conway said. “It’s an opportunity to fight on behalf of 9.5 million people.”
Conway served in the Assembly from 2008 to 2014, and was minority leader for much of it.
“The leader traveled the state,” she said. “I feel I have a nice network. I feel good about my chances.” Conway said she can use campaign funds she had planned to use for her Senate campaign for the Board of Equalization race instead.
The Board of Equalization is specified in the state constitution. Its original purpose was to review county property taxes and make sure no county is undervaluing property, but its authority over tax matters, including appeals, has grown over the decades.
Critics have charged that the agency has been subject to misuse by career politicians who get elected to it and use civil service workers to do their bidding.
This year, the Legislature gutted the powers of the Board of Equalization by creating the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, which went into effect July 1, to do much of what the Board of Equalization did.