By Leon Worden / SCVNews.com
Sen. Tony Strickland, who represents western portions of the Santa Clarita Valley in the California Senate, has scheduled a press conference to announce his candidacy for Congress.
Last weekend’s decision by Simi Valley Republican Elton Gallegly to retire after the current congressional session, rather than run in either of two newly redrawn districts, opened the door for Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, to run without a Republican challenger for a vacant Ventura-based seat.
The new congressional maps put Gallegly, who has served in Congress for 25 years, in the same district with Santa Clarita Republican Buck McKeon. There had been speculation Gallegly might run next door in Ventura, since members of Congress don’t have to live in their district and Venturans are more familiar with Gallegly than are residents of the SCV or the Antelope Valley. Both the SCV and the AV remain in McKeon’s 25th district.
Instead, Gallegly decided to step aside – and that’s what Strickland was waiting for. Elected in 2008 to his current position after serving in the Assembly, Strickland could have stayed in the Senate four more years under California’s term-limit law.
Strickland’s bid for Congress leaves his Senate seat open for a run by Cameron Smyth, who has not yet announced his decision. Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, is termed out of the Assembly at the end of the year.
“I’m still waiting to see what the courts decide regarding the Senate lines,” Smyth told SCVNews.com Sunday.
If the state Supreme Court uphold new Senate districts drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Smyth’s house in Santa Clarita would be in a predominantly Ventura County district that would see one and possibly two strong Democratic candidates including incumbent Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills.
If the court rules the districts must be redrawn, there might not be time to do so in time for the June 5 primary election. If the “old” districts hold in 2012, Smyth could run for a Senate seat where he is better known, and where he wouldn’t be facing an incumbent.
Strickland’s campaign announcement is calendared for Tuesday morning, Jan. 17, at the Aviation Museum in Camarillo.