Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley. (Courtesy)

By Sandra Emerson | semerson@scng.com |
Published: August 26, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Updated: August 26, 2019 at 8:44 pm

An unexpected opening on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors may lead to a game of political musical chairs.

Supervisor Robert Lovingood’s recent announcement not to seek re-election to the 1st District means the seat will be open in 2020, including to a possible run from Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley.

Cook, who represents the 8th Congressional District, which includes most of San Bernardino County as well as Mono and Inyo counties, is considering a return to local politics, but has not yet made a decision, said John Sobel, Cook’s chief of staff.

“He is a local government guy originally,” Sobel said.

Cook, a retired Marine Corps colonel and Vietnam combat veteran, was elected to congress in 2012, after representing the area in the state Assembly for six years. He served on the Yucca Valley Town Council from 1998 to 2006.

The 1st District lies within the footprint of the 8th Congressional District. Both include the High Desert cities of Victorville, Hesperia, Adelanto and Needles as well as Apply Valley.

While there is much overlap, the supervisorial district does not include the town of Yucca Valley, where Cook lives.

Yucca Valley is in the 3rd District, which is currently represented by Supervisor Dawn Rowe, a former Cook aid appointed to the post in December. Cook fully supports Rowe’s election in 2020, Sobel said.

Candidates are required to live in the district they are running to represent for at least 30 days prior to the filing deadline, according to the San Bernardino County elections office. The deadline to file to run for the seat is Dec. 11.

Should Cook run for the 1st District seat, that would leave the 8th Congressional District open to his Democratic challenger Chris Bubser, independent candidate Peter Mathisen, or possibly Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake.

“Assemblyman Jay Obernolte has a deep respect and admiration for Congressman Cook’s service to our country and state as a Congressman, State Assemblyman and Marine Corps Veteran,” said Obernolte’s campaign manager, Ross Sevy, in a statement. “Should he decide to seek a different office, Assemblyman Obernolte intends to continue Congressman Cook’s advocacy for veterans, taxpayers and small businesses in the 8th Congressional District.”

Political maneuvering is not uncommon when a seat opens up, according to Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

“It’s pretty common for vacancies to lead to a chain reaction of political decisions,” Pitney said. “It’s what makes it all fun.”

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