According to several high-placed sources within the California Republican Party, State Senator Sharron Runner of the 21st district will not be seeking re-election this year, citing health concerns. GOP Senate leadership is reportedly urging former Senator and Congressional candidate Tony Strickland to run.
According to the LA County Registrar, current candidates for the 21st are Democrats Johnathon Ervin and Steve Hill, and Republican Star Moffatt, who previously ran as a Democrat for this seat against Steve Knight. The filing deadline for the seat is tomorrow, and Runner is presently listed as a nominee. If Runner withdraws her nomination by tomorrow, the nomination period will be automatically extended to Wednesday, March 16.
The 21st District includes the Antelope and Victor Valleys, and much of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Antelope Valley has a clear plurality of the district’s population.
Elected last year to complete now-Congressman Steve Knight’s remaining term, this is Runner’s second partial term in the Senate, having previously been elected to fill her husband’s unexpired term in 2011 after George Runner was elected to the State Board of Equalization. Because she hasn’t served a single complete term, the current term limits law would allow her to serve a full three terms in the Senate after the current term.
Strickland doesn’t currently live in the district, and if he were to run, he’d be entering a large district that only slightly overlaps his previous Senate seat that included some of the eastern Santa Clarita Valley. It’s still unclear whether another Republican nominee will emerge by next Wednesday.
Although it’s widely considered a Republican seat, especially with an incumbent, Democrats now have a slight (+1.4%) registration advantage. No matter the leading Republican nominee, this seat is now much more competitive.
I’ve reached out to Senator Runner’s campaign and Tony Strickland for comment, but neither could be reached. I’ll update as I hear more.
Update: Runner announces she won’t seek re-election (Sacramento Bee)