Former Secretary of State Bill Jones said Wednesday that he will not seek the congressional seat of retiring Mariposa Republican George Radanovich.
Jones, a Republican and the elder statesman of Fresno-area politics, said he discussed the congressional campaign and the effects on his personal life if he won with wife Maurine and his two daughters. Those family ties ultimately led him to reject a run, though business considerations also played a role.
"Maurine and I decided with all the grandchildren here, now is not the right time," Jones said.
If Jones had entered the race, he likely would have had the highest name identification across the district, which sprawls from Fresno north through Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties to the eastern reaches of Modesto in Stanislaus County.
Radanovich announced last week that he would not seek re-election as his wife, Ethie, battles cancer. State Sen. Jeff Denham of Atwater and former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson both said they would seek the seat.
A short time later, Jones began considering a run, as did former Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy. Pombo announced his candidacy on Monday.
As Jones decided against a run, Pombo is working to grow his support in the southern part of the district. A news conference is scheduled today at Fig Garden Village in which Visalia Republican Rep. Devin Nunes -- who is well-respected in the Fresno area -- is widely expected to endorse Pombo.
Tom Holyoke, an assistant professor of political science at California State University, Fresno, said Jones' decision is a good thing for all the remaining Republican hopefuls. Now, there's one less person to battle for money, endorsements and -- most important -- voters.
"It's a big player they don't have to compete against," Holyoke said.
Jones said he has considered running for federal office four times, but only ran once -- an unsuccessful 2004 bid for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. At that time, his daughter Andrea was living in the Washington, D.C., area. She is now back in the Fresno area, along with his other daughter.
Before he was secretary of state, Jones represented the Fresno area in the state Assembly, where he was a Republican leader.