Assemblywoman Jean Fuller

BY CHRISTINE BEDELL, Californian staff writer | Friday, Feb 05 2010 05:27 PM

Last Updated Friday, Feb 05 2010 06:07 PM

This time she meant to announce it.

Assemblywoman Jean Fuller said Friday she will run for the 18th District state Senate seat now held by Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield. It’s the answer to a major cliff-hanger that’s hung over local politics for months because it affects so many races and candidacies.

Fuller’s announcement came a day after she accidentally spilled the beans to The Californian by leaving a phone message with the news on the voice mail of Opinion Page Editor Robert Price. She thought she was leaving the message for former Bakersfield Mayor Bob Price.

She joked about the mishap Friday, though wouldn’t detail what happened, saying “some things are best just left unexplained.”

“I know now how to get on the front page of the paper,” Fuller, R-Bakersfield, quipped. “Thank you all for helping me with that.”

She said she’s running because there’s still so much work to be done getting more water flowing through the San Joaquin Valley, shrinking government and deregulating. Fuller touted the fact she now knows “how the levers work” and the big players in Sacramento.

“At the end of the day there were things that needed to be done,” Fuller said.

Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels said Fuller’s announcement doesn’t solidify one way or another whether he, too, will seek the Senate post.

He reiterated he will take about a week to decide, with the biggest factor being whether he’d be able to serve in the Senate and spend enough time with his 10-year-old son.

“I think very highly of Jean,” Jagels said. “It is obviously true neither I nor anybody else knew if she was going to run, what she was going to run for. It doesn’t make any difference” in his decision-making.

Local Republican consultant Tracy Leach said the 18th is really getting interesting.

“Jagels (versus Fuller) would make for a very tough race with his high name ID in Kern and a great ballot title (district attorney),” she said.

The 18th District is huge — including all of Inyo and much of Tulare and San Bernardino counties — but most voters are in Kern.

The only other declared Republican candidate for Ashburn’s seat is former Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

The GOP candidates for Fuller’s 32nd Assembly District seat are homebuilder and Kern High School District Trustee Ken Mettler; Taft College Professor Harold Pease; and Bakersfield psychologist Dean Haddock.

“I am pleased that Assemblymember Fuller has announced her plans and I wish her well on her campaign for the state Senate,” Mettler said in a news release. “The seat that she currently holds … is indeed the “people’s seat” and I am pursuing that office with vigor and determination in order to make sure that Kern County voters are a force to be reckoned with in our dysfunctional legislature.”

Pease said Fuller’s plans solidify his interest in the 32nd.

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