The abrupt resignation of State Senator Bill Emmerson (R-23) has created more electoral confusion in the Inland Empire. Less than a year into his four-year term, his announced departure also raises questions as to why he truly resigned. “Losing passion for the job” just doesn’t pass the smell test. We are certain that more information will “come out” per se as it always does in Sacramento.
Whatever the real reason for Emmerson’s departure, he has created a mess for his former constituents.
The vacancy creates another special election fiasco for voters with the Senate election likely to occur in March and a runoff in June. Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-40) has already announced his candidacy. Other potential candidates include San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos (D), Yucaipa Water Board Member Lonnie Granlund (R), former Beaumont Mayor Jan Leja (R), and some lesser known potential candidates.
Morrell clearly holds a strong advantage with nearly $250,000 in campaign funds on hand. Word on the street is that Emerson is openly supporting Granlund, who is also the divorced wife of former Assemblyman and lobbyist Brett Granlund. Leja has significant ties to Riverside County that could make her a viable candidate if she can raise the money necessary to run a campaign.
If Morrell is successful and wins the heavily Republican seat, it creates the trickle-down effect of opening the highly competitive 40th Assembly District where Republican and Democrat registration are nearly even. This seat will be targeted by both parties and Morrell’s vacation makes it an easier pickup for Democrats. Supervisor James Ramos is also rumored to be a candidate for this seat, while Republican’s are desperately searching for a strong candidate to take up the gauntlet.
This would be more entertaining if the Inland Empire had not already been beset by two special elections in the West End this past year and a noxious election and recall in San Bernardino on November 5th. Voter fatigue is a real issue that can be expected to set in next year. Add in a mix of Obamacare, FBI investigations and arrests, and looming scandals in San Bernardino County and you have a perfect storm of voter angst and disgust that should create a significant drag on voter participation.
That is unfortunate.
Expect Obamacare and its impending failure to impact partisan elections up and down next year’s ballot. As more families find their healthcare coverage cancelled and that the replacement of their coverage significantly increasing in cost, the effect on Democrat candidates will be extremely negative from the United States Senate all the way down the ballot to state legislators.
Expect Republicans to tar Democrats with this issue, whether they voted for the mess or not. Obamacare will be the single determining factor neutralizing the government shutdown and immigration issues. Expect Congressman Gary Miller to easily ride this to reelection regardless of who finishes atop the Democrat Primary heap, wounded and less electable.