State Sen. Jeff Stone (R- Temecula) announced Wednesday he was appointed to the Trump administration. This move opens up the door to a special election and is expected to become competitive. Stone served California’s 28th Senate District, which stretches from Blythe on the county’s eastern end through the Coachella Valley to include Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake.
Stones resignation takes effect Friday, Nov 1. He will immediately begin his new role in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Western Regional Director overseeing Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
In a press release Stone said, “I am deeply honored to be appointed by the President and look forward to continuing my public service in this new and exciting position. The nation under President Trump is experiencing unprecedented economic growth that requires a highly trained and skilled workforce.”
Prior to Stone entering politics on the Temecula City Council he was a pharmacist. From city council Stone moved to serve to on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors from 2005- 2014. In 2014 he was elected to the State Senate.
Stone made national headlines in 2011 when he was angered by the lawmakers in Sacramento diverting vehicle license fees away from four communities in Riverside County who relied on those fees to stay afloat. His suggestion of splitting the state of California in two was headline news.
Stone made headlines when he co-authored a vaccine bill SB 277 with Senator Richard Pan in 2015. SB 277 removed religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccines.
Stone survived a recall effort in his district for SB 277, a bill that divided his family as well.
In September 2019, Stone did an about-face and spoke on the State Senate floor against SB 714 which eliminated medical exemptions for vaccines, and SB 276 that invalidated any medical exemptions from a doctor who faced disciplinary action by the state medical board.
Stone resigned his membership in the Legislative Jewish Caucus in 2017. “When I was invited to join the Jewish Caucus, I was expressly told that it was a non-partisan Caucus, and the issues we were going to be involved with would focus on promoting the interests of the Jewish people in California and around the world,” Stone said. “Since the election of President Trump, it seems that there has been a divergence from the Caucus’ original mission. It has clearly become a vehicle for a Legislative Caucus that receives state resources to merely criticize our duly elected President.” Senator Stone was the sole Republican member of the Legislative Jewish Caucus.
According to state law Gov. Gavin Newsom can schedule a special election to replace Stone, whose term runs through 2022. The election could coincide with the statewide primary. The primary is March 3, 2020.
Stone’s last election was a close race against Democrat challenger Joy Silver. The GOP and the Democrats have less than one percentage point difference in the districts voter registration. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) in the 67th District announced on Wednesday she is considering a run for Stone’s vacated senate seat. Melendez has been in the assembly since 2012.
Stone is the second elected person in Riverside County to be appointed to the Trump Administration.
In August, Randon Lane left his role as Mayor Pro-Tem for the city of Murrieta when appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington D.C. Lane also served on the Riverside Transit Agency Board of Directors Chairman and Southern California Association of Governments.