If one person walked away this week a distinct loser, it was Joaquin Arambula.

The Clovis-turned-Kingsburg doc was dealt a tremendously bad hand after Assemblyman Henry T. Perea abruptly announced his decision to resign from the legislative body just 12 months shy of the end of his final term in office.

Perea, of course, is headed to a to-be-named special interest to lobby on their behalf. Arambula is headed for an uphill battle the likes of which he could never have predicted.

After some initial confusion, the Perea vacancy – which is official on Dec. 31 – will create a special election for the seat. Rob Pyers of the California Target Book, an elections research organization, tweeted that the primary will likely be held on the first Tuesday of April, with a runoff combined with the regularly-scheduled June Primary, if needed.

Multiple sources told CVObserver that Arambula visited the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee on Wednesday and commiserated over his newfound dilemma and admitted that he was completely unprepared for a showdown with Fresno City Councilman and GOP candidate Clint Olivier. Even worse: he reported that his fundraising has stagnated, leaving him with the same $150,000 he had at the end of the second quarter (which ended in June).

The reason, as we said when tearing down the Democrats’ local political analysis, is simple: despite his well-known last name, few voters actually know Joaquin Arambula.

Add to the mix the fact that Arambula has consistently struggled to connect with voters and activists, and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. Or a local version of the Jeb Bush campaign.


If you notice local (and Sacramento, for that matter) Democrats grabbing the Pepto Bismol, they have good reasons why: they’re watching history repeat itself for the second time in three years.

In 2012, as Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) was looking to cruise into a victory for the brand new 21st Congressional seat in the Kings-Kern county area, he abruptly announced that he’d be quitting before he truly started campaigning. At the time, he cited a need to spend more time with family, and that adding the House race to his duties as a Senator would spread him too thin.

By February 2013, David Valadao was serving in the Longworth House Office Building for the California 21st district, and Rubio announced that he would be resigning to serve as in a prime role in the Government Affairs department of Chevron.

The news shocked his tri-county district, killed a major CEQA reform proposal, and sent the California Democratic Party into complete panic mode over losing their tenuous Senate supermajority thanks to finicky Central Valley voters.

The GOP recruited cherry farmer Andy Vidak, just three years after his shockingly close defeat to Rep. Jim Costa, and the Democrats went back to the same well – the Kern County Board of Supervisors – to recruit Leticia Perez.

Vidak went on to defeat Perez (after nearly avoiding a runoff, but falling just short of the 50%+1 vote needed).

In 2014, Vidak battled with Fresno Unified Trustee Luis Chavez in what was truly a proxy war between organized labor, realtors, the California Chamber of Commerce, Chevron, and a number of other special interests.

Vidak managed to defeat Chavez by 9-points come November 2014.

Vidak’s cumulative victories in 2013 and 2014 were seen as a sign of life from the state party after one too many cycles of lifeless campaigning that came to a head during a 2012 attempted coup d’etat of Assembly Leader Connie Conway.

Now, Democrats are increasingly fearful of a similar result at the hands of Olivier and the GOP.