Manuel Perez eyes higher office in 2018

July 26th, 2013 | by Erica Felci | Comments

As state Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez gathers support for his 2014 county supervisor campaign, records show he’s been quietly setting the stage for a future higher office.

Pérez has been raising money for the 2018 campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is California’s highest education official.

The Coachella Democrat is one of only eight people who have fundraising accounts open for statewide offices in that cycle, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Pérez — who was a Coachella Valley Unified school board member before he was elected to the Assembly in 2008 — said he’s only raised a “few thousand” in the state superintendent account.

He insisted last week that his primary focus and “all my calls” on the campaign trail are related to next year’s bid to unseat Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit.

“It was considered early on. Even years ago, because of my education background, it was a thought. It’s so far off, quite frankly,” said Pérez, adding he has a “great working relationship” with current Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

“People are going to see that there’s really no money in that account. I was considering closing it already.”

State records show Pérez filed the initial paperwork for the state superintendent campaign on March 4, about two weeks after he opened his supervisor account with the county registrar.

Opening an account doesn’t mean Pérez will actually go for it.

Other Coachella Valley politicians — including former state Sen. Jim Battin — have certainly opened far-off campaign accounts and not run.

(That is, unless we missed the La Quinta Republican on the 2010 ballot for lieutenant governor.)

When we asked Benoit what he thought of Pérez’s multiple accounts, he didn’t sound surprised.

“It’s something I‘ve seen a lot of with my friends on the other side of the aisle,” the Bermuda Dunes Republican said. “It’s used by some to raise more money.”

Exactly how much money Pérez raised in both of his campaign accounts will be unveiled by Wednesday, when candidates statewide have to report how much money they raised and spent during the first six months of the year.

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