It's never too soon
One effect of term limits has been to make known well in advance the date of future openings in the Legislature. When a new member is elected in a safe district -- which nearly every district is -- dozens of political calendars are flipped ahead six years. It's never too early to start plannning.
With the 2004 election passed, it is no surprise, then, that the public jockeying for seats that will open in 2006 has begun.
One prize seat is the 41st Assembly District, which is not only safely Democratic but also has statewide cache because of its wealth, its celebrity constituents in Malibu and the Malibu Hills, its reputation as a center of environmental activism and the district's all-star alumni club: Tom Hayden and Sheila Kuehl.
Late last week, longtime Democratic activist Kelly Hayes-Raitt of Santa Monica formally announced her candidacy and scheduled two fund-raisers. Hayes-Raitt, a one-time environmental aide to Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, has played a lead strategic role in campaigns to save bilingual education, to enact laws protecting homeowners whose property is contaminated by toxic molds, to phase out air-polluting diesel school buses and other notable causes. More recently she has made two trips to Iraq to advocate for Iraqi women. For those efforts, the Los Angeles County Commission on the Status of Women named her a Los Angeles County Woman of the Year for 2004. She has never before run for elective office.
Other candidates will certainly be coming forward in the weeks and months ahead. Among the leading possibilities: Calabasas City Councilman Barry Groveman, an environmental lawyer and former assistant L.A. city attorney; and former Agoura Hills City Councilwoman Louise Rishoff, who is district office director for incumbent Assemblywoman Fran Pavley. There is also the wild-card possibility of newly elected Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, the brother of California first lady Maria Shriver and brother-in-law of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The last time the seat was open, Pavley prevailed in a remarkably fractured, five-way Democratic primary in which four candidates each received at least 15 percent of the Democratic vote. Pavley prevailed with 32.7 percent, ahead of former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager David Freeman.