The Inland Empire is experiencing a season of political change as incumbents exit for appointments to the Trump Administration. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), announced on Monday that she will run for the state Senate seat vacated by State Sen. Jeff Stone. Stone resigned last week after accepting the position of Western Regional Director of the Department of Labor in the U.S. Labor Department, appointed by President Donald Trump.
Stone is also endorsing Melendez to replace his seat in the 28th District. Melendez announced her candidacy in a Facebook Live broadcast. In an interview Tuesday morning with the California Globe, Melendez said she feels obligated to run for the now open senate seat.
“I already represent half of the 28th Senate District. I know the issues I don’t want the seat to go to a democrat because of their record of failed policies in the state.,” said Melendez. “We can not let Democrats bring to the area more poverty, high taxes, homeless camps, more drugs, crime etc.”
Melendez pointed out that not one Democrat is helping to make California more affordable, nor are they adequately addressing the important issues.
“The last thing we need is to send another member of the majority party to fill this seat.”
Melendez, a Navy veteran, began her political career in the city council for Lake Elsinore, where she also served as Mayor. She has been representing the 67th District in the state Assembly since 2012.
“The Democrats have a supermajority in both statehouses. What they are doing to hurt California is not by accident,” said Melendez. District 28 is now a purple district. Republicans only have a 1.5 percentage point voter registration advantage over Democrats, 35.2% to 33.7%.
Melendez pointed out that 25% of voters are registered as “No Party Preference.”
Melendez said if she wins the State Senate seat she will continue the town halls or coffee meetings that she has become known for since Mayor of Lake Elsinore. She wants to continue to hear and address the concerns of those she serves.
Temecula City Councilman Matt Rahn who was interested in the Senate seat has also endorsed Melendez’s candidacy for Senate District 28.
“It is a wonderful thing when Republicans can put aside their own political ambitions momentarily, which isn’t always easy but certainly shows a depth of character, and when Republicans candidate most likely to win,” said Melendez.
Gene Wunderlich who was sworn in on Tuesday to serve on Murrieta’s city council said, “Well, since I’m not running, my friend Assemblymember Melissa Melendez is throwing her chapeau in the ring for the recently vacated Senate seat. If anybody can pull this off it’s Melissa. We’re behind you all the way. It would be really nice if other ego trippers would back the hell off and help us keep this seat.”
Wunderlich replaced city council member Randon Lane who was appointed by President Trump to the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington D.C. in August.
With Melendez running for the State Senate seat, others in the Inland Empire will be jockeying to fill her role in the state Assembly.
Gov. Gavin Newsom under state law, has until Nov. 15 to call a special election to replace Stone. Under the California Election Code a special election to fill a vacancy must take place at least 126 days, but not more than 140 days, after the governor calls for that special election. The only exception is if the governor wishes to date the special election to coincide with another race already scheduled.