Since the mid-1970s, when Republican Ernest Mobley passed on an Assembly reelection bid to seek a state Senate seat, the 31st Assembly District has been as reliably Democratic as they come.
When Mobley didn’t run, Democrat Richard Lehman captured the seat. Democrats have held it ever since. Lehman was followed by Bruce Bronzan, Cruz Bustamante, Sarah Reyes, Juan Arambula (who later switched to decline-to-state) and Henry T. Perea.
That string of strong Democrats was rarely matched by the Republicans. Often, the Democratic candidate was unopposed.
Now, Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier is considering a run, and Republicans are excited at the possibility. Olivier, they say, is one of the few local Republicans who can be competitive in the seat, which has a strong Democratic Party voter registration advantage.
“Absolutely, I’m taking a very serious look at being a candidate for the 31st Assembly District,” Olivier said. “Alisha (Olivier’s wife) and I are taking steps in that direction.”
Olivier, 39, said he expects to make a final decision in the next few weeks. He just won election last year to his second, and final, city council term. That term will end in Jan. 2019, though Olivier would have to resign two years early if he won the state Assembly seat.
Already, Joaquin Arambula, the son of Juan Arambula and a Kingsburg Democrat, has said he is looking at the 31st Assembly District seat.
Perea will reach his term limit at the end of next year.
It would be Arambula’s first run for public office, though his father had experience not only as an Assembly member, but also as a Fresno Unified trustee and a Fresno County Supervisor.
Arambula already has the support of a large portion of the local Democratic Party establishment.