A longtime Merced resident will challenge incumbent Adam Gray in the race for the 21st Assembly District seat, county officials confirmed Wednesday.
Republican Jack Mobley filed paperwork late Tuesday to become a qualified write-in candidate, according to Merced County Registrar of Voters Barbara Levey. Mobley obtained the requisite number of nomination signatures to qualify, Levey said, which means write-in votes with his name will be counted.
The top two candidates in the Assembly race will face off in the November election, Levey said, adding that Mobley would need a single vote to move on. “Seeing as there are only two of them, (Mobley) will be on the November ballot,” Levey said.
This is the second time Mobley has challenged Gray, a Democrat from Merced. In Nov. 2012, Mobley ran against Gray but lost by a nearly 10 percentage point margin.
Mobley also unsuccessfully challenged Assemblywoman Cathleen Galigiani twice.
But the 56-year-old said he decided to run again after seeing the direction the state is headed financially and he believes he has what it takes to unseat Gray.
“Quite frankly, I was not going to run, but the folks in Sacramento have been trying to get me to change my mind for several months,” Mobley said. “The demographics are vastly different this time, and I think they should be scared.”
As the owner of a janitorial franchise for 24 years, Mobley said, he sees the impact of state regulations on his business.
“Adam’s a nice person, I like him personally, but he doesn’t have the business experience,” he said. “I don’t think they really appreciate the fact that California is last in the nation for being business-friendly.”
Mobley said he had the foresight to anticipate the state’s water shortage in 2008, when he suggested building dams and increasing storage.
“The majority of Californians realize we have a serious water problem,” Mobley said, “and these people haven’t done anything about it.”
Gray said Wednesday he has been working with legislators on a water bond to increase storage capabilities. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to continue to work on the water bond and build some significant water storage in the state,” Gray said. “That’s more than has been done in the past 20 years.”
Gray said he stands behind his record in office and pointed to the community support he’s received, obtaining more than 3,000 signatures during his campaign. Gray said he’s proud of accomplishments such as securing more money for local schools and a pilot tax incentive program for Merced County businesses.
He said he plans to introduce bills to secure funding for UC Merced’s medical programs and an incentive for businesses to come to the former Castle Air Force Base. “I’m going to keep my eye on the future and keep working toward making life better for the people in the 21st Assembly District,” Gray said.
Gray said he’s not concerned about Mobley entering the state Assembly race.“I’m more worried about real issues that affect the community,” Gray said. “Jack lost by large margins when he ran against me in 2012.”
Gray scrutinized Mobley’s decision to enter the race as a write-in candidate instead of filing paperwork to be on the ballot. “It’s not real indicative of someone who’s a serious candidate,” Gray said.
The primary election will be held June 3.
Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.