Secretary of State March Fong Eu, who has been nominated by President Clinton to be U.S. ambassador to Micronesia, announced Thursday that she is resigning and will go to Washington for Senate confirmation hearings. The resignation is effective next Thursday.
Gov. Pete Wilson is not expected to appoint a replacement because of the short time before the election, which would make it difficult for an appointee to obtain state Senate and Assembly confirmation.
The job will be done on a temporary basis by Chief Deputy Tony Miller, who has declared his candidacy for the position. Eu has endorsed Miller, a fellow Democrat.
Assemblyman Bill Jones (R-Fresno), Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles) and Democrat Mike Woo, a former Los Angeles city councilman, also are running for Eu’s position.
Eu said her proudest accomplishments while secretary of state for 20 years include obtaining mail voter registration, sponsoring the establishment of the state World Trade Commission, and getting federal approval of legislation allowing voters to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies.
“I also have served as a successful role model for women and minorities,” she said, “and that has been a source of much pride to me.”
First elected secretary of state in 1974, Eu, 71, won by a record vote of nearly 3 million. She was the first woman ever elected to the post.
She previously served as assemblywoman representing Oakland and part of Castro Valley. As a legislator, Eu initiated a drive to abolish pay toilets for women and pushed through the necessary legislation.
She reaped nationwide publicity when she wielded a sledgehammer to smash a toilet on the Capitol steps for the benefit of television cameras and newspaper photographers.
In 1986, Eu was beaten and robbed by an ax-wielding assailant in her Hancock Park home. After Eu gave him $400, the man fled. She recovered and her assailant was convicted of several felony burglary counts. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Eu considered running for U.S. Senate in 1988, but decided not to make the race because her husband, Henry Eu, would not disclose his financial interests.
Her son, Matt Fong, is a Republican who was appointed to the State Board of Equalization by Gov. Pete Wilson. Fong is running for the office of state treasurer.