Confirming rumors of his pending candidacy, California Democratic Party chair Rusty Hicks today paid his filing fee and pulled nomination paperwork to run for the state assembly District 2 seat, which will be be vacated at the end of the current term by Healdsburg resident Jim Wood.
Prior to his election as party chair in 2019 — and his re-election in 2021 — Hicks worked as a political organizer and labor union leader in Los Angeles. An attorney and Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, Hicks moved with his wife to Arcata a couple years ago, according to Steve Barkan, a longtime friend who responded to an Outpost inquiry submitted to the California Democratic Party last week.
The campaign to fill Wood’s seat is already crowded, though Hicks might be considered the frontrunner given his position of power within the party establishment. He”ll be running against Healdsburg Mayor Ariel Kelley, Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams and Santa Rosa City Council Member Chris Rogers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Arcata resident has pulled nomination paperwork for the position. And on the Republican side, Del Norte Unified School District Trustee Michael Greer has thrown his hat in the ring
Theorizing about a Hicks Assembly run, Politico last week noted that if he steps aside from his state party chairmanship to concentrate on his campaign — something that’s not required by the party’s bylaws — it “would create a leadership vacuum in the middle of an election cycle.”
If he does step down, Vice Chair Betty Yee would replace him, though she has announced plans to run for governor in 2026.
At the state convention in Sacramento this past weekend, Hicks spoke out against the hundreds of protesters who showed up with Palestinian flags and chanted, “Ceasefire now!” Their demonstrations drowned out the remarks of Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, who are competing with Rep. Barbara Lee for U.S. Senate seat, and the disruptions “compelled party officials to cancel all Saturday night events and step up security for [Sunday],” CalMatters reported.
Hicks called the protest “unacceptable” and threatened repercussions for any delegates who violated the party’s code of conduct.
“Antisemitism and Islamophobia has no place in our party or in our communities,” he said. “We condemn acts of violence that bring harm to our neighbors and divide us from one another, both here at home and abroad.”
Hicks did not immediately respond to a voicemail message from the Outpost.
Note: This post has been updated to add information about last weekend’s Democratic Party convention in Sacramento.