Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown gets chance to fill antagonist’s seat

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who will be sworn in as a state senator Dec. 1. Gov. Jerry Brown will appoint a replacement.
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who will be sworn in as a state senator Dec. 1. Gov. Jerry Brown will appoint a replacement. Jeff Stone for Senate

In the nearly four years since he returned to the Governor’s Office, Gov. Jerry Brown has faced few local government antagonists more vocal than Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone. Now Brown gets to fill Stone’s seat following the supervisor’s election to the state Senate earlier this month.

Stone, a Republican, is resigning from the board next week, three weeks after he defeated former Republican Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia in the race for the 28th Senate District. Brown has no time limit on choosing Stone’s replacement. “The governor is obviously looking for the best possible candidate for this position,” Brown spokesman Jim Evans said in an e-mail Friday.

Brown has filled several supervisorial vacancies during his third term as governor, and almost all of the appointments to the nonpartisan posts have been Democrats. That could be a challenge in Stone’s Third District, particularly if whoever Brown appoints tries to run for a full term when the seat is on the ballot in 2016.

Republican registration in Stone’s district is the second-highest in Southern California, with GOP voters outnumbering Democrats by more than 31,000. In 2012, President Barack Obama carried Riverside County but Mitt Romney won Stone’s district with almost 58 percent of the vote. Among the reported candidates for the supervisor’s post are Temecula councilmembers Michael Naggar, a Republican, and Chuck Washington, a Democrat, according to The Press-Enterprise.

Other factors in the appointment could be the board’s demographics. Currently, all five supervisors are white men, and Republicans, in a county that is about one-half male, 40 percent white, and 40 percent Republican.

What seems unlikely is that Stone will have a lot of input in Brown’s selection. In 2011, Stone and other Riverside County politicians lashed out at Brown after he signed a budget that sharply reduced funding for Riverside County’s newest cities. Stone proposed that Riverside and several other California counties secede and start a new “South California,” free of Brown and other Democrats, “that allows capitalism to prevail.” Brown’s then-spokesman called Stone’s idea “a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody’s time.”

In 2012, as Brown tried to build support for temporary tax increases, Stone sent a letter to Southern California newspapers urging people to reject the plan. “Until this Governor stops “Brown-nosing” the special interests in Sacramento and truly begins to show real courage, demanding that all state employees share responsibility for fixing our budget woes, NO ONE should support his tax increases!!” Stone wrote on county letterhead.

Brown’s office countered then that Stone was “seceding from reality.”

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.