Political Notebook

Fuller’s Senate ascension cements region as GOP power base

Newly elected state Senate minority leader Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield
Newly elected state Senate minority leader Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield

Bakersfield Republican Jean Fuller was elected Thursday as state Senate minority leader, more than two months ahead of her originally planned Nov. 1 transition to the post.

Fuller takes over from state Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, and once again gives the San Joaquin Valley the top Republican leadership posts in the state Legislature at the same time. Already, Modesto Republican Kristin Olsen is the Assembly minority leader.

Past examples of San Joaquin Valley legislators holding GOP leadership posts simultaneously include Bill Jones in the Assembly and Ken Maddy in the state Senate. More recently, it was Mike Villines in the Assembly and Dave Cogdill in the Senate.

Fuller’s ascension also cements this region’s claim to be California’s Republican power base. The Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties has long been viewed as a rival for the title that had long been in Orange County’s hands, but the string of local elected leaders in the Legislature’s Republican leadership makes this region the undisputed GOP king.

Olsen, for example, took over the Assembly GOP post from Tulare’s Connie Conway, who is now termed out of office. The combination of Conway and Olsen has given the San Joaquin Valley uninterrupted Assembly GOP leadership for what will be five years this coming November.