It looks like the first official business day of 2016 may set the tone for the coming political season, with two candidates pulling early paperwork in the 31st Assembly District race.
Not surprisingly, those candidates were Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula and Fresno Republican Clint Olivier. Both long ago announced they would seek the seat, which officially became vacant last Thursday when Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea’s resignation became official. Perea resigned to take a job with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, better known as PhRMA, a national trade organization representing pharmaceutical companies.
Monday was the first day for potential 31st District candidates to pull papers that will allow them to get a reduced filing fee. The fee is reduced by getting registered voters to sign the paperwork.
But in the 31st District, there’s a twist, thanks to Perea’s resignation from his seat, which came a year before the end of his term.
There will be a special election this year to fill the final months of Perea’s unexpired current term. There will also be a regular election for the next two-year term, which would start in December. If Perea had stayed in his seat, he would have reached his term limit this coming December.
So Monday, both Olivier and Arambula pulled papers for both the special and regular elections.
It is unknown at this time when the special election will be held, though the speculation is in April. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the special election, a runoff would follow. Whoever ultimately wins that special election will immediately be sworn into the 31st Assembly District seat and would serve until early December.
Gov. Jerry Brown has until Jan. 14 to officially call the special election.
The regular election will have the primary in June and the general election in November – just like usual. Whoever wins that election will take the seat in December.
At this point, the big question is whether any other candidates will enter the race. To date, only Arambula and Olivier have been running active campaigns.
Additional candidates in the race could put yet another twist in what could be a strange 31st District election saga – a seat that Democrats have held for 40 years and which has rarely, if ever, provided any drama.
If it is just Arambula and Olivier, the process will be pretty straightforward: One of the two will win the special election outright and quickly take the Assembly seat for the balance of 2016. The June primary will be a practice run that will decide nothing. The November general election will be the final showdown.