In a surprise announcement this morning, Assemblyman Tom Daly announced this morning that he would not seek re-election to a final term in the state Assembly, after a decade of serving in the legislature.
“After much consideration, I’ve decided not to seek a sixth term in the State Assembly. It’s been a deep honor serving the residents and businesses of Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana and Garden Grove. This is my tenth year,” said Daly in a statement.
Daly’s decision leaves only a small window for candidates to jump into the race for the now-open, newly-numbered 68th Assembly District. The candidate filing period for the June primary closes tomorrow at 5:00 p.m., but since the nominal incumbent is not running for re-election, filing will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on March 16.
It is widely expected that Anaheim Councilman Avelino Valencia – a moderate Democrat who works for Daly – will announce his candidacy for the seat, with Daly’s support.
Daly is probably the longest-serving elected official in Orange County history, having been elected continuously to a series of offices beginning in 1986. Prior to being elected to the Assembly, he was Orange County Clerk-Recorder for ten years. He was the directly elected mayor of Anaheim from 1994 to 2002, and before that he served on the Anaheim City Council from 1988 to 1994. Prior to that, he was a member of the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Education.
Daly was elected to the Assembly in 2012, defeating left-wing labor official Julio Perez in the primary, which was tantamount to victory in the heavily Democratic 69th Assembly District.
“For the residents and businesses of the Assembly district, I’ve done my best to solve problems and deliver results. This includes leading efforts to make State government more accountable to the people; obtaining funding for local parks projects; and sponsoring new laws which expedite the delivery of transportation projects. I’m particularly proud of my early involvement in the successful endeavor to create a “Rainy Day Fund” in California’s annual budget,” said Daly.
While the lateness of Daly’s announcement may seem unusual, it is not atypical in situations where an incumbent is trying to clear the field for an endorsed successor – leaving other potential candidates scrambling to jump in and put together an effective campaign.
Republican Mike Tardif, the endorsed Republican candidate planning to challenge Daly, saluted Daly’s long service while touting his candidacy as an alternative voice for the district.
“I would like to thank Assemblyman Tom Daly for his many years of public service to the residents of Orange County,” said Tardif. “This open seat gives the residents of the 68th an opportunity for a new direction in California to turn from the failing policies of the majority party.”