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Karbassi Running for Assembly vs. Fellow Fresno Councilmember

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Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi, at podium, is running for state Assembly. (GV Wire File)
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Mike Karbassi, a Democrat representing northwest Fresno on the city council, is running for state Assembly. The move will pit him against fellow Fresno city councilmember and Democrat Esmeralda Soria.

“It is true, I am aggressively exploring a run for Assembly District 27. Looking at the numbers, this is clearly a Blue Dog district in need of a candidate. I have a proven moderate record to best represent the district’s interests in Sacramento,” Karbassi, 38, tells GV Wire.

Karbassi and Soria are considering running in AD 27, the newly redrawn district that covers parts of Fresno, Madera and Merced counties. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, lives in the district but announced he is running for Congress.

The official filing period runs Feb. 14 through March 11.

For Karbassi and Soria, this is a “free” run. Soria is termed out, completing her eighth year on the city council. Karbassi is in the middle of his first full term — winning a special election in 2019 and a full-term seat a year later.

While both are Democrats, Soria and Karbassi have found themselves on opposite sides of votes several times. Soria is part of the city council’s liberal block; Karbassi calls himself a conservative “Blue Dog.”

Soria Builds List of Endorsements

For weeks, Soria, 39, flirted with other elected offices including the state Senate district south of Fresno, sources told GV Wire. She revealed her intentions on Jan. 21 to run in AD 27.

Two years ago, Soria ran for Congress against incumbent Democrat Jim Costa. The district shared many of the constituents as the current AD 27. Soria failed to advance beyond the primary.

Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria at a Jan. 21, 2022, event for state Sen. Anna Caballero. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Since then, she has announced several endorsements from Democratic constituencies, including elected leaders at all levels and labor groups. She boasts the support of the four other Democrats on the Fresno City Council — Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez, Nelson Esparza, and Tyler Maxwell.

Karbassi has not rolled out any endorsements. Adam Gray has not indicated who he might support or if he will recruit his own candidate.

By running for AD 27, Soria must change her voting registration residence to the area where her Assembly and city council districts intersect. A source with direct knowledge tells GV Wire she has made that move. By city law, Soria must update her residence with the city clerk’s office within 60 days. As of last week, she has not done so.

Karbassi said he recently updated his voting registration address to a home he owns within the district. The original version of this story said he had yet to make the change.

Candidates must be registered to vote within the Assembly district they run in. Councilmembers must remain within their voting district as well.

Only one other person, Patricia Ramos-Anderson, has pulled signatures in-lieu papers thus far in Merced County. But she told GV Wire she would withdraw after Soria announced.

AD 27 Background

Half of the district voters live in Merced County. The city of Merced is the city with the most voters with 17%. The city of Fresno, which includes both Soria’s District 1 and Karbassi’s District 2, contains 12% of all AD 27 voters.

The new AD 27 is 51.4% Latino citizen voting age population (CVAP) — the metric used by the redistricting commission to redraw the maps —  33.9% white CVAP, 7.4% Asian CVAP, and 5.1% Black CVAP.

Population Percentage of district
27 total       512,647 100.0%
Merced County       260,425 50.8%
Atwater          32,085 6.3%
Dos Palos            5,832 1.1%
Lvingston          14,214 2.8%
Los Banos          45,677 8.9%
Merced city          86,681 16.9%
Remainder of county          75,936 14.8%
Madera County       103,294 20.1%
Chowchilla          13,426 2.6%
Madera city          66,591 13.0%
Remainder of county          23,277 4.5%
Fresno County       148,298 28.9%
Coalinga          14,479 2.8%
Firebaugh            8,128 1.6%
Fresno city          61,676 12.0%
Huron            6,230 1.2%
Kerman          16,058 3.1%
Mendota          12,639 2.5%
San Joaquin city            3,710 0.7%
Remainder of county          25,378 5.0%

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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