There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about the effects of term-limits, as efforts are underway to create an additional election next February for an earlier California Presidential primary that some cynics believe is only taking place so that current legislative leaders can have one more crack at trying to relax term-limits before they themselves are forced to retire from office. Well, one impact of our current limits of three two-year terms in the State's lower house is that, on the GOP side, well over a third of the seats held by the GOP will be "open seats" next year. Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to take a closer look, well over a year out, at how the races are shaping up in these open GOP seats. Of course, the challenge of looking at the action in the seats this early is that one never knows who might get into the races later, and what the final field of candidates might look like. That said, there is a lot going on, and we'll start our FlashReport preview of upcoming GOP open-seat primaries with a look at the 36th Assembly District...[Note: In no case have I or will I endorse an individual candidate in a contested Republican primary, this is just my attempt to handicap primary races based on information that I have available to me...] ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 36 (Sharon Runner), Los Angeles/San Bernardino Counties
It seems like only a few years ago, but was actually over a decade ago when, as a State Vice President of the California Republican Assembly, I visited the Antelope Valley, and met George and Sharon Runner at a local meeting of their local CRA unit club. Even back then, you could tell that both of these great people were up and coming leaders in the Republican Party. Fast forward many years later, and George Runner, after serving six years in the State Assembly, is now a State Senator, and Sharon -- well, she's now into her fifth year representing the people of the 36th Assembly District -- but will retire at the end of next year due to term-limits.
The District that she represents is an expansive one, taking vast amounts of geographic territory
in the northern high-desert parts of both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. The larger cities in the Los Angeles side of the 36th are Palmdale and Lancaster, and Adelanto and Victorville on the San Bernardino Side. A closer look at the district map shows that this district extends so far to the east that it cuddles up to remote Barstow! As you might imagine, this territory is very safe for the Grand Old Party, and the entire ball game for who will follow Sharon Runner into the State Assembly will be decided in a Republican primary a year from June.
Under any circumstances, one could not preview a race in the 36th without talking about the late Pete Knight (pictured to the left)
, but as you will hear in a moment, Knight's imprimatur on this particular area of California is especially important. I remember back in the early 90's when I heard that a former Air Force Colonel who held the world record as the 'fastest man alive' for his record flight of a plane at Mach 6.7 (for those curious, that is 4,520 mph) -- as a matter of fact, he still holds that record today! Knight is one of the most decorated pilots/astronauts in American history. Retired Colonel William J. "Pete" Knight was elected to what is largely this Assembly District in 1992, serving four years, and then going on to serve in the State Senate until May of 2004 when he passed away. Knight was known for being a strong, principled conservative voice in the legislature, but he was certainly most well known as the author of California's Proposition 22, the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by California voters, making it clear that in the Golden State, marriage would be defined as a union between a man and a woman.
One of the things that you learn in politics is that some things cannot possible be included in a campaign budget because, frankly, you cannot buy them. Name association is one of those things. In Orange County, where I am from, it doesn't get any better than the Campbell name, made famous by the long political career of former Assemblyman-now-Supervisor Bill Campbell, and piggy-backed by former Assemblyman-turned-Senator and now Congressman John Campbell. Of course, if you were up in the San Gabriel Valley, everyone knows about the Mountjoy name for the father and son who together served decades in the legislature.
If there are two names that carry an amazing level of positive association in the Antelope Valley, it's Knight and Runner. We talked about the late Senator Knight above, but Pete Knight is so revered that statues of him were erected in Lancaster and Palmdale, and the latter city is home to a High School named after him.
The race for the GOP nomination in Assembly District 36, at this point, is likely to be between two members of the Palmdale City Council, longtime Mayor Jim Ledford and City Councilman Steve Knight, the son of the late Senator. There is more... Click the link below...
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