State legislative seats often end up changing more frequently than current 12 year term limits. An open State Senate or Assembly seat generally results in trickle down changes through the political ranks in the region where the open seat is. For example, insurance broker and PIFC supported, Ted Gaines served as California State Senator to District 1, until Mr. Gaines was elected to the State Board of Equalization. Constituents in Senate District 1 elected Brian Dahle to the Senate Seat, vacating the Assembly District Seat he was serving in. Assembly District 1 is a solidly Republican seat, one of the most conservative in California encompassing vast stretches of Northern California including Siskiyou, Shasta, and Lassen Counties. November 5, 2019, voters elected Megan Dahle to fill the Assembly District 1 seat, Megan and Brian Dahle are husband and wife.
A similar shakeup is underway in Senate District 28, this district encompasses large portions of Riverside County and is ranked as “leans Republican”. At the beginning of November, Senator Stone accepted a Trump appointment to become the United States Department of Labor’s western regional director. Governor Newsom must call a special election within 14 days of the seat becoming vacant, the election will likely coincide with the Statewide March primary election.
Republicans will work hard to keep this seat, as they only hold 10 of the 40 Senate seats. Voter registration is currently neck and neck, with 34% of voters identified with the Democratic Party, 36% with the Republican Party, and 25% no party preference. Looking at registration trends, between 2012 and 2018, Republicans lost about 6% of their voters, and no party preference gained an equal 6%. So the registration gap may not be as close as it initially appears. If statewide historical voting trends are an indicator, Trump beat Clinton 48% to 46%, Kashkari beat Brown in the 2014 Governor’s race 52% to 47%. And Romney beat Obama in the 2012 Presidential race 52% to 45%.
In the days after Senator Stone announced he was stepping down several candidates jumped in, and in subsequent days candidates were getting in and out of the race in rapid succession. Initially the anointed Republican Candidate appeared to be Matt Rahn who serves on the Temecula City Council. Shortly after, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez announced she would run for the senate seat and Mr. Rahn threw his support to her. Republican Leader Shannon Grove and former Senator Jeff Stone have both endorsed Assemblywoman Melendez. Democrat Joy Silver also announced her intent to run. Ms. Silver ran against Mr. Stone for this seat in 2018, and lost 51% to 48%. This will be a heavily watched contested special election. As of this writing, other possible candidates include Palm Springs Councilwoman Lisa Middleton and Palm Springs Councilwoman Christy Holstege.