Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, deployed since March with the Navy in Afghanistan, made a quick trip home last month during his one alloted R&R leave. Appropriately, he kept the trip very much under the radar. In fact, the only reason I'm able to report this is that he was spotted by happenstance at the Santa Barbara Zoo by an acquaintance in Ventura County who passed the information along to me.
I asked Gorell about the trip by email, and he confirmed the visit. "I spent the time with my family and avoided business/work because of the prohibitions place upon me from personally participating in any political and official legislative actiities, and because that seemed like the right thing to do," he wrote.
Exactly, A serviceman separated from his wife and young children for a year ought to spend all his few days of leave with his family.
His Assembly staff reports that they were aware of the visit, but that they had almost no communication with him while he was home.
Gorell, R-Camarillo, expressed some concern that, now that his visit home is publicly reported, some friends and supporters might have hurt feelings that he didn't get in touch. If so, they should get over it. He'll be home, he noted in the email dated last night, "exactly four months from today."
From a political viewpoint, Gorell's absence has made it impossible for him to become involved in all the political speculation that is still swirling over the new 26th District congressional seat (who, ultimately, will run?) and the slight uncertainty over the fate of the new Senate districts (now the subject of a referendum that has been submitted with a whisker-thin margin for error, given the relatively few number of signatures). That hasn't kept others from speculating that Gorell might decide to run for Congress next year if Rep. Elton Gallegly does not, or for state Senate if Sen. Tony Strickland ends up running for Congress.
The bet here is that Gorell will run for re-election to the Assembly. After all, because of circumstances, he has to date served only three months in that job. And he is still a young man of 41 who will likely have other political opportunities in the future.