A latecomer to next week’s primary election, Jack Mobley said the changing political climate in California gives him a legitimate shot at contending with incumbent Adam Gray, D-Merced.
Mobley, a Merced Republican, said Gray’s win of the 21st Assembly District seat in 2012 was buoyed by the re-election of President Barack Obama and excitement surrounding the California high-speed rail project – both of which he said are less popular than two years ago.
“Obamacare is proving to be a disaster and high-speed rail – people are regretting that vote,” he said. “And, Adam’s got a voting record now that, right or wrong, he owns.”
The incumbent has gone on the record as a supporter of the high-speed rail project.
After three losing efforts, Mobley said, he thought he was done with politics because he didn’t want to continue to finance a campaign and take time away from his business.
The owner of a janitorial service said he estimates he spent $350,000 on his attempts at elected office, including money from his own pocket and money lost while away from his business. He changed his mind when party leaders said they would support another run for the seat.
Near the end of the 2012 race, he said, California Republican leaders pulled some of the funding they’d planned for Mobley’s campaign and redistributed it. He said the move was strategic, and, though he didn’t like it, he also didn’t blame them.
The level of assurance this time around is higher. “They made some commitments that they’d be there until the end of the race (and) that I would be a focus for them,” he said.
The first time Mobley challenged Gray, he lost by nearly 10 percentage points. His other two efforts were facing Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani.
Mobley said the Assembly has too many career politicians, which leads to too many taxes and a state not friendly to business. He said he would also like to lead the charge to overhaul the Assembly, making elected officials into part-timers.
“You could have housewives, teachers, more business owners,” he said. “You wouldn’t attract people who are looking for a job.”
A key issue on the minds of voters will be water, Mobley said. Sacramento has been reactionary, he said, when leaders should have been increasing storage in preparation for dry years.
Gray did not return calls for comment.
“Mobley has every right to run for this office in this manner, but it is disingenuous to suggest his candidacy is inspired by anything other than a directive from partisan political forces in Sacramento,” Gray’s campaign manager Mike Lynch said in a press release.
By not filing his candidacy for office in the traditional manner, Lynch noted, Mobley avoided paying a filing fee. He touted Gray’s effort to submit more than 1,700 signatures to the Merced County Registrar of Voters Office and more than 700 signatures to the Stanislaus County clerk-recorder office in February. That many signatures meant the incumbent’s name was put on the ballot without paying the filing fee.
Mobley filed paperwork last week to become a qualified write-in candidate, according to Merced County Registrar of Voters Office. Mobley obtained the requisite number of nomination signatures to qualify, 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, so Mobley would need a single vote to move on and face Gray. Lynch called the effort a “back door” way onto the ballot.
The 21st Assembly District is predominantly Democratic and includes Merced County and the southwest section of Stanislaus County, including parts of Modesto.
The election is Tuesday, and polls open at 8 a.m.