Assemblyman Richard E. Longshore, who won election to the Legislature in 1986 after two unsuccessful tries, died Wednesday, a day after voters in his Santa Ana district nominated him for a second term.
The 62-year-old Republican, who had been ill for many months, died of pneumonia. He had entered Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento 10 days ago, said Mike Pottage, director of communications for the Assembly Republican Caucus.
Longshore's wife, Linda, was at his side when he died at 10:30 a.m., Pottage said.
Facing the primary uncontested on Tuesday, Longshore was "looking forward to winning the November election and no longer being a freshman," Pottage said.
His death caught his colleagues and staff members by surprise.
"We begged him to go to the hospital many weeks ago," said a friend and colleague, Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach). "But he felt so obligated to be here. He wanted to be here every moment we were in session."
Longshore was elected two years ago after a bitter battle for Democratic Assemblyman Richard Robinson's seat. Robinson vacated his post that year to run unsuccessfully for Congress.
Longshore had run head-to-head against Robinson in 1982 and 1984, losing to the veteran Democrat by 256 votes in 1984.
Longshore kept a low profile during his first year in office, and his performance was hampered by illness for much of 1988. For several weeks he could speak no louder than a whisper, and recently his doctors reportedly advised him to stop speaking entirely.
A loyal member of the caucus who rarely bucked the leadership, Longshore introduced 39 bills in his short career, and five of them became law by the time of his death. Among the laws enacted under his name was a measure prohibiting public agencies from treating military veterans differently from others seeking social services and another that advanced the efforts to construct a veterans memorial at the capital.
Under state law, no special election will be called because Longshore's death came after the February closing of the nomination period.
Instead, the Orange County Republican Central Committee can choose a new nominee for the November election, and the seat will remain vacant until the Legislature begins a new session in December.
In addition to his wife, Longshore is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Judy Raya and Mary Katherine Marshburn; and a daughter, Rebecca, 5; and a son, David, 2, from his second marriage.