The title "senator" -- not unlike "colonel" in Southern circles -- is one of those monikers that automatically bestows an air of importance on the holder. Those who have ever been elected senator are loath to give up the title.
In the term-limit era, in which some senators have been elected to the lower house after their allowable time as a senator has expired, it is not uncommon to hear members of the Assembly address some of their colleagues as "senator." And, going back a few decades, there was the case of former Ventura County Sen. Omer Rains, who after leaving office petitioned the court to legally change his name to "Senator Omer Rains."
All of which helps to explain the current letterhead of Board of Equalization Member George Runner. Although he currently holds a different -- and, arguably, higher-level -- elected position, Runner continues to use the name "Senator George Runner."
Spokesman David Duran said retaining the title "senator" is Runner's preference and that, "From my perspective, it's a whole lot easier than 'Board of Equalization member.'"
Duran noted that former senators and governors typically continue to use the title and that others typically use the title when referring to them.
While that is true, it is generally not used once the former senator is elected to a new elected office. No one calls the occupant of the White House, for instance, "President Senator Obama." And no one calls the current state treasuer by either or both of his former titles. If anyone did, it would be quite a mouthful: "Treasurer Attorney General Senator Bill Lockyer."
In Runner's case, the continued use of the title raises another issue, since his wife, Sharon, succeeded him in his former office. If you call the Runner household and ask to speak to "Senator Runner," which spouse comes on the line?