Longtime California State Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) announced Thursday he won’t seek reelection this year, leaving an office that represents the heart of central Orange County’s interests in Sacramento up for grabs.
That means a more progressive voice in town – Santa Ana activist Bulmaro “Boomer” Vicente could have an advantage in the 68th Assembly District, where Democrats hold a strong advantage in voter registration.
But there’s still time for other candidates to enter the race.
In fact, moments after the original publication of this story, Democratic Anaheim City Councilmember Avelino Valencia announced he would run for the seat. Valencia also serves as Daly’s district director.
Tomorrow is the official candidate deadline for filing paperwork for the June election.
“After much consideration, I’ve decided not to seek a sixth term in the State Assembly. It’s been a deep honor serving the residents and businesses of Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana and Garden Grove. This is my tenth year,” Daly said in a Thursday news release.
Daly’s Thursday announcement marks an end to his roughly 36-career in politics, which started at the Anaheim Union High School Board of Trustees in 1986.
Now there’s potentially four candidates 68th Assembly District – Vicente, Valencia, Mike Tardif and James Wallace.
Democrats have a major voter registration advantage in the district.
Of the district’s roughly 205,000 registered voters, nearly 51% are Democrats, 21% are Republicans and 24% are no party preference voters, according to data from the OC Registrar of Voters.
And a majority of residents eligible to vote in the district are Latino, according to data from the state’s redistricting commission.
Of all the eligible voters in the district, 56% are Latino, 28% are white, 12% are Asian and 2% are Black.
Vicente, a Santa Ana resident, is the only candidate in the 68th Assembly District that had a campaign website, as of Thursday afternoon.
Valencia, Tardif and Wallce don’t yet appear to have campaign websites.
Wallace released a YouTube video promoting charter schools a few days ago.
Tardif, while endorsed by the OC Republican Party, seemingly doesn’t have a social media presence or campaign videos online.
He most recently filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office in an effort to get OC Board of Education member and Tustin City Council member Beckie Gomez to drop one of her two elected seats.
In Santa Ana, he’s been a conservative resident voice in a majority liberal town.
But as recent years have demonstrated, that doesn’t always discount one’s electoral chances.
Tardif was a supporter of former Councilmember Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias, a Republican whose unique base got her the needed votes to hold a seat on the dais until 2019, when she was ousted in a recall election that came after a campaign funded primarily by the police union.
Iglesias sparred with the union intensely and publicly during her time in office, centered on enhanced pay raises granted to police officers in 2019, raises which some City Hall observers have called fiscally irresponsible.
Tardif has similarly criticized the union, during a public council meeting in 2020 when the police union sought the removal of Iglesias and former council member Juan Villegas — also a critic of the police union raises — from the city’s public safety board.
One can also count Vicente as a police union critic, though for likely different reasons.
Vicente’s an advocate for a reimagined system of public safety in central county, a vision where more taxpayer dollars go to parks and libraries than to police – a vision more or less shared by those in town further left-leaning than some of the city’s current council members.
The reverse is currently the case under the city’s annual budget.
That also involves advocating for resources in central county communities which Vicente and supporters say better improves public safety – handball courts and after school programs.
He’s also been a strong proponent of the city’s rent control ordinance.
“This district hasn’t had someone who fights for us in a long time. We need someone who will fight for housing, healthcare for all, reimagined community safety, and action on climate change, and that’s why I decided to run, even before Daly’s announcement,” Vicente said in a Thursday written statement, adding, “It’s time for a new generation of leaders. “
Valencia was elected to the Anaheim City Council in 2020, and has asked a few questions publicly about the council-approved Angel Stadium land sale’s Surplus Land Act violations.
This story was updated to include Avelino Valencia’s Assembly candidate announcement.
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