Assemblywoman Audra Strickland told me today she is "exploring the possibility" of running for secretary of state in 2010.
Props to fellow Star blogger Brian Dennert for reporting on Strickland forming a campaign committee earlier this year. The mere creation of a committee, however, is not necessarily an indication of intent. Often, lawmakers who are about to be termed out create campaign committees for offices for which they are qualified to run simply to create an account in which they can park campaign funds for future use.
Strickland, R-Moorpark, says in her case, the creation of the committee is a sincere first step toward a possible run for statewide office next year. She said she is aware of no other Republican who has thus far expressed serious interest in becoming the GOP nominee to challenge incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
If Strickland pursues this race, it will mark the continuation of a longtime tradition of Ventura County legislators running for statewide office -- although their success rate is very slim.
Former Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks, before moving to Northern California to become a congressman, lost three times in bids for state office. Strickland's husband, Tony, lost a race for controller in 2006. Former Assemblyman Keith Richman was defeated in the Republican primary for treasurer in 2006. Former Sen. Cathie Wright of Simi Valley lost a bid for lieutenant governor. And, long before all that, former Sen. Omer Rains was foiled in his dream of becoming attorney general. The only one-time county lawmaker who has succeeded statewide is former Sen. Jack O'Connell, now in his second term as superintendent of public instruction.
Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who represents Ventura and parts of Oxnard, also has his eyes on statewide office next year: He is one of a large field of Democrats contemplating a run for attorney general, on the assumption that incumbent Jerry Brown will step down to run for governor.
It seems that whatever local legislators lack in terms of widespread name recognition and a fundraising base, they more than make up for with ambition.