It’s election season in California, and the resignations, announcements and endorsements are coming in fast and furious.
The state’s political scene got a major shakeup on Monday, when Rep. Devin Nunes, a high-profile, powerful and controversial Republican who’s represented the San Joaquin Valley in Congress since 2003, announced that he plans to give up his seat in January to lead former President Donald Trump’s new media company.
The surprise move will trigger numerous rounds of political musical chairs, starting with Gov. Gavin Newsom calling a special election to fill Nunes’ seat through the end of his term in January 2023. State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat who also represents the San Joaquin Valley, tweeted a photo showing that she’d received nearly 600 text messages about the open seat. And Democrat Phil Arballo, who lost to Nunes in 2020 and planned to challenge him again in 2022, is apparently planning to run in the special election next spring.
Another factor that may have prompted Nunes’ resignation: Draft maps that California’s independent redistricting commission are expected to finalize later this month show his district shifting from majority Republican to majority Democratic for the next decade, starting with the 2022 elections. Whether that holds true in the final maps could influence who decides to run for the seat.
- Assemblymember Devon Mathis, a Central Valley Republican: “The lines are not drawn yet, my eyes are open.”
Another sign election season is heating up: the flurry of endorsements. Rep. Jackie Speier on Monday endorsed Assemblymember Kevin Mullin — a fellow San Mateo Democrat and her former staffer — for the seat she plans to vacate after 2022. And Assemblymember Jim Frazier, a Fairfield Democrat who’s resigning at the end of the year to take a job in the transportation industry, threw his weight behind Suisun Mayor Lori Wilson to replace him.
Also Monday, crime victims served Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón with papers of intent to recall him — a few months after another attempt to oust him from office fizzled. The news came the same day state lawmakers held a joint hearing to consider proposing a 2022 ballot measure to overhaul California’s recall process, such as by limiting recalls to cases of improper conduct.
Experts say that Newsom appears to be headed for easy reelection in 2022 after his overwhelming defeat of the Sept. 14 recall. But the governor is also facing scrutiny from critics for taking several out-of-state trips despite recently extending portions of California’s COVID state of emergency through March 2022.
The governor’s office announced Monday that Newsom will be in New York until Wednesday to promote on “The Daily Show” and “The View” his new children’s book about a young boy’s struggle with dyslexia, which is scheduled to be released today. The trip comes after Newsom’s Dec. 3-5 visit to Nevada and a Nov. 22-28 stay in Mexico.
A Newsom spokesperson called the criticism of the travel “ridiculous political attacks.”