Former Kern County supervisor Pete Parra on Tuesday set up an exploratory committee to run for the 30th Assembly District, a seat now held by Republican Danny Gilmore of Hanford. Parra's decision appeared to confirm what political insiders have felt for weeks – that Gilmore won't seek reelection next year.
Parra's action was announced by his daughter, former Democratic Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, who held the seat from 2002 to 2008.
"He's in it now. He's signed the paperwork," Parra told Capitol Weekly. She added, "We'll be in Sacramento next week making the rounds."
The younger Parra beat Gilmore in a close, hard-fought race in 2006. Afterwards, the two met and became friends. Both Parra's crossed party lines to campaign for Gilmore last year, when he defeated Democrat Fran Florez to win election to the Assembly.
Pete Parra said publicly that he was interested in Gilmore's seat, but that he would not run against Gilmore, whom he considers a friend.
While Nicole Parra would not say that Gilmore has decided not to run, she did say they spoke with him earlier on Tuesday, before Pete Parra signed the papers to jump into the race.
Assembly Republicans say party officials are interviewing potential candidates to replace Gilmore.
"We are preparing for the possibility if he does not run for reelection," said Kevin Spillane, political director for the Assembly Republicans. "We are doing what we expect to do in that kind of situation."
That situation made it into newspaper headlines last week when Allen Hoffenblum reported in his Hot Sheet newsletter that Gilmore actively was considering not running again.
"He doesn't enjoy the job," said Hoffenblum, publisher of the Target Book, an influential election forecasting publication. "If he was forced to make the decision today, he wouldn't run for reelection."
Gilmore himself has remained mum on his plans. But there have been rumors for months that Gilmore was unhappy with the harsh partisanship in the Legislature, as well as having to vote and deep cuts in state services.
An Oct. 17 story in the Bakersfield California, "Danny Gilmore's Tough First Term," tells of Gilmore praying, crying and suffering bouts of insomnia following tough votes and meetings with mothers of disabled children. Perhaps tellingly, Gilmore's Assembly website links to the story in its "In the News" section.
Hoffenblum also noted that Gilmore was elected out of the 30th District, one of the most-closely divided in the state. He lost a brutal campaign against incumbent Nicole Parra in 2006. Two years later he beat Fran Florez, mother of Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and a well-known local politician in her own right, by a single percentage point. Gilmore was outspent in both campaigns, and endured numerous attack ads.
Hoffenblum noted that Gilmore is about to turn 60, and that as a retired CHP officer, he has a good pension.
"He doesn't need the money," Hoffenblum said. "He probably looked around and said "What am I doing this for?"
Spillane said it was premature to comment on who party officials were speaking to about the slot, saying only it was a "diverse" group. He also gave Gilmore credit for the way he ran his last campaign.
Ed's Note: Fixes an editing error to show Nicole Parra's party designation as Democrat.