Ok, maybe there isn’t really a Nicole Parra Day, but there probably ought to be. And it should be celebrated on August 18th.
You see, Saturday will mark four years since Parra was locked out of her office in the Capitol (and moved into a broom closet) by Speaker Karen Bass in retaliation for her refusal to vote for the state budget.
In the long history of the Legislature, it was far from the biggest challenge that a member has ever given a Speaker. What made it stand out was the simple logic behind it and the events that it put in motion. The simple logic that it represented was that legislator are elected to represent their districts and use their judgment. To evaluate the budget for themselves, and not vote to approve or oppose on a party-line, was both brilliant and a relatively novel idea. As a new arrival in the Capitol, it was (and remains) one of the most amazing things I ever saw a legislator do.
The events that it set in motion are countless; when Parra termed out, she threw her support behind Republican Danny Gilmore, who won that November. Gilmore, as a Republican from a “Democratic district”, lasted only a year before deciding not to run again. As a result of the break between Parra and the Democratic establishment, resources were turned against her father in his 2010 Assembly campaign that kept him from winning the Democratic nomination. In the General Election, Parra and Gilmore recorded an ad for Republican David Valadao that helped him to victory. Now, with Valadao as a leading candidate for Congress, the ripple effects of Parra’s missing budget vote continue to spread.
It was a notable event four years ago, and it continues to play a part in state politics today. California would definitely benefit from a Nicole Parra Day.