With no public announcement, Garcia, R-Cathedral City, joined the staff of then-state Sen. Bill Emmerson in October. Garcia is the field representative in the Palm Desert office of the 23rd Senate District, which Emmerson represented until he resigned Dec. 1.
Garcia represented much of the Coachella Valley in the Assembly from 2002 through 2008, and before that was a field representative for former state Sen. Jim Battin. That background, she said, is why Emmerson picked her for the $1,006-a-month part-time job, which Garcia called "an honor and a privilege."
"It was an opportunity to make sure the community is still getting the representation it needs," said Garcia, who added that she receives no Senate benefits for the job.
She dismissed any suggestion that the job helps her bid for the new 28th Senate District, which includes Palm Desert, the rest of the Coachella Valley and other parts of Riverside County. Emmerson has endorsed Garcia, as have most state lawmakers.
"I seriously doubt that such a minimal amount of time gives anyone an advantage," Garcia said. Her campaign website includes no mention of her Senate position.
The Palm Desert office exists because of a quirk in the 2011 redraw of the state's political map. The area is not part of any Senate district in 2013-14, so Senate leaders made Emmerson its caretaker senator. The special election to replace Emmerson is March 25 and, if necessary, June 3.
Garcia is one of three well-funded Republicans running for the GOP-leaning 28th. The others are Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone and Indio Councilman Glenn Miller.
PHOTO: Bonnie Garcia cheers Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as he speaks to delegates during the third day of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, September 2, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer