Three things you have to admit about Shannon Grove: She knows who she is, she sticks to her convictions, and she doesn’t particularly care if you approve.
Her conservative values sell well in Bakersfield, if not in Sacramento, and she’s fine with all that, too.
Now, nearly two years after she termed out as a forceful if controversial state assemblywoman, Grove is back as the most recognizable name on the ballot in the race for the 16th Senate District seat that Jean Fuller will relinquish to term limits later this year.
Grove has a host of strong endorsements including that of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, and several city council members and supervisors from Kern County and communities in other parts of the district.
On the strength of her experience representing a generally conservative district in an overwhelmingly liberal statehouse, she has The Californian’s, too.
Grove is the most recognizable name in a three-person field; the top two will advance to a November general-election runoff. Grove, with by far the most legislative experience, money and name recognition, should coast to one of those spots.
Battling for the opportunity to oppose her in November are Minister Gregory Tatum of Bakersfield, a Republican, and former Needles City Councilwoman Ruth Musser-Lopez, a Democrat — yes, the vast 16th District extends all the way to Needles.
The 16th state senate district, the largest such district in the state in terms of geographic size, covers the southeastern Central Valley and a huge swath of the Mojave Desert. It is 52 percent white and 36 percent Latino and Republicans enjoy a 14 percent registration advantage over Democrats.
Musser-Lopez, the only candidate with experience in municipal government, serves as an idealogical counter-weight to Grove. She is passionate in her pursuit of this office, especially for its potential to provide a pulpit for the environmental causes she espouses.
Tatum, who ran for mayor of Bakersfield in 2016, finishing sixth among the 25 candidates, pastors Change Community Church in Bakersfield.
The district’s demographic and political makeup should bode well for Grove, who boasts a strong pro-business, pro-Second Amendment, conservative record. She is proud of her record in office, bringing the sensibilities she developed in the U.S. Army and in business to Sacramento — viewpoints that have given her a clear-eyed view on the legislative process.
She was elected to the state assembly in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and left in 2016 due to term limits. During her previous stint in office she pushed to make it more difficult for attorneys to file what she calls frivolous lawsuits and to end warehousing of developmentally disabled individuals.
Grove, who enthusiastically aligned herself with former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, widely regarded as the farthest-right legislator in Sacramento, has raised some eyebrows. Most memorably, she made headlines when she seemed to suggest that God eased the drought in Texas after that state banned abortions after 20 weeks. “It rained that night” in Texas, she said.
“Now God has His hold on California,” Grove added, in an apparent reference to California’s drought — and its relatively liberal abortion laws.
Agree or not, voters know what they’re getting in Shannon Grove: an unyielding conservative. That makes her a fit in California’s most conservative county.
The Californian recommends that voters select Grove in the June 5 primary election for 16th Senate District seat.