Three In And Three More Contemplating Race To Replace Knight

(November 26)  Steve Knight’s election to Congress earlier this month has prompted three hopefuls to declare their candidacies to replace him as State Senator in the 21st District. Three others are contemplating joining the political fray as well.
Among the declared candidates is his opponent in the 2012 election, who waged a spirited campaign on a host of ideological and practical issues.
The 21st District straddles San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties and covers portions of the Victor, Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys. More than two-thirds of registered voters in the 21st Senate District reside in Los Angeles County.
Knight, who defeated fellow Republican Tony Strickland in the November 4 election, is scheduled to be sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 6. Knight will resign as a state senator some time prior to that. Two years remain on his current term. Upon Knight’s resignation, Governor Jerry Brown has two weeks to make a proclamation calling for a special election to fill the vacancy. That election is likely to be held in April or May. A special election must occur between 126 to 140 days after the governor’s proclamation, according to state elections code.
Star Moffatt, who ran for 21st District State Senator in 2012, taking second place in the June open primary and qualifying for the two-way run-off against Knight in November of that year, was the first declared candidate in the race to succeed Knight.
Moffatt, a Democrat, cited numerous issues and differences with Knight, a Republican, in making her appeal to voters two years ago, including protection of the public education system, maintaining local employment opportunities, ensuring voter rights, providing access to medical care, providing support to disenfranchised small and medium sized businesses, actively engaging the disabled and racial and ethnic minority senior citizens to inform them of support programs, stepping up the state’s veteran support programs and subsidies, hiring more public defenders, and preventing hikes in property tax.
In announcing her candidacy, Moffatt said, “It is time to put a priority on issues affecting our district and the need for real solutions which will help us retain and create jobs, improve our public education system and reduce taxes.”
Characterizing herself as a conservative Democrat, Moffatt said she intended to build on the basis of her 2012 run, in which she garnered just under 43 percent of the vote. “My campaign,” Moffatt said, “was built up of a large community of grass-roots volunteers, endorsers and supporters, who were primarily sending a message to the state and the Senate District 21 community that it is time for a leadership change.”
A six-year Army veteran who earned her associates degrees in interdisciplinary studies and legal assistance from LA Mission College and completed her first year of law school at the William Howard Taft University School of Law, Moffatt was the executive director of a community-based organization providing assistance to the handicapped and handicapped homeless. In 2009 she was selected by the FBI as a member of the InfraGard, which is aimed at safeguarding Americans, particularly in the private sector and business arenas, from a whole range of hostile acts by foreign enemies, in particular cyber attacks, the theft of proprietary data and terrorist activity.
“As your next senator, I will present real solutions because we need less government, reduced regulations and taxes rolled back in order to keep California-born companies in California. I will also encourage out-of-state companies to migrate to our beautiful State,” Moffatt said.
Shortly after Moffett’s announcement, five others indicated interest in succeeding Knight. Two of those – Apple Valley-based entrepreneur Sal Chavez and Hesperia Councilman Eric Schmidt have officially declared their candidacies.
Chavez is the chief financial officer and project control coordinator of SC Engineering, which is located in Apple Valley. A Republican, Chavez lives in Victorville. He said his campaign will emphasize his commitment to easing the tax and regulatory burden on businesses in particular and taxpayers in general by reducing wasteful government spending.
Schmidt, a councilman in Hesperia since 2012, is now that city’s mayor pro tem. He is president and co-founder of an Adelanto-based propulsion system engineering and research and development firm, the Exquadrum Corporation. A Republican, he has previously been an advocate for returning much of the power assumed by the state government to local control.
Two others, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, have indicated they might run for Knight’s soon-to-be-vacant position. Parris and Ledford are both Republicans. Rivals who attended Palmdale High School together, they do not get along particularly well. Indeed, they are said to despise one another. There was a suggestion that either or both were entertaining a run for State Senate as an effort to undercut the other and that each is awaiting the official announcement of candidacy of the other before declaring his own candidacy. Neither had officially declared at press time.
There was further speculation that former 33rd District Assemblyman Tim Donnelly might run for the post. Donnelly, however, does not currently live in the 21st District, but rather in the 23rd State Senate District. A provision in the California Constitution requires candidates to have lived in their legislative district for one year. The California Secretary of State’s legal counsel, however, has entered an opinion that provision is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and is not enforceable. Donnelly must, nevertheless, move into the 21st District to run. Were he to do so, he might face a challenge from some other entity or person on the duration of residency issue. Were he to prevail on legal grounds, he might yet face accusations of being a carpetbagger from one or more of his opponents. Donnelly forewent running for reelection to the Assembly this year to make an ultimately unsuccessful bid to capture the Republican nomination for governor.

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