There’s a rumor making the rounds that Tulare Republican Connie Conway has decided against a 2018 run for the 16th state Senate seat currently held by Bakersfield Republican Jean Fuller.
Ralph Bailey, a radio host on Bakersfield station KERN (AM 1180/FM 96.1) has heard it. Even Conway’s heard it.
And, she says emphatically, it’s not true.
“I thoroughly intend to run,” she says. “I’m not backing out.”
Conway served three terms in the state Assembly before reaching her term limit last year. Before the end of her first term, she was elected Assembly Republican leader, a post she held almost to the end of her tenure. The new Assembly GOP leader is Kristin Olsen of Modesto.
Well before the end of her Assembly tenure, Conway began laying the groundwork for a 16th state Senate run, even though there would be a four-year gap between her final Assembly term and the 16th state Senate seat coming open when Fuller reaches her own term limit.
Conway has already raised more than $860,000 for the run.
But Conway isn’t the only one eyeing Fuller’s Senate seat. Another possible candidate is Assembly Member Shannon Grove, a Bakersfield Republican. She’s already had a contribution from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Bakersfield Republican and the number two person in the U.S. House. The district is huge, covering much of the High Desert and parts of Kern and Tulare counties in the San Joaquin Valley, but the two main population centers are Bakersfield and Visalia. That could mean a Conway-Grove showdown.