Bob Larkin, a longtime Republican activist and former Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce president, announced Friday that he has decided to oppose beleaguered Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) in the 1990 primary.
"I've decided that I think there's enough support to start a good, hard campaign," said Larkin, who owns a State Farm Life Insurance Co. agency. "I'm in it for the long haul."
Larkin, 52, first vice chairman of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee, filed papers earlier this month to run, but he said he had not made a final decision. He said Friday that he has recruited volunteers, raised $1,000 in small contributions and plans to lease a campaign office in Simi Valley next week.
Spurred by controversy surrounding Wright, at least two other well-connected Republicans are said to be weighing possible candidacies in her sprawling 37th Assembly District, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Robert Wilcox, a former aide to Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette (R-Northridge), is openly courting support. Hunt Braly, administrative assistant to state Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia), is also exploring a potential primary bid, according to Larkin and another Republican activist.
Wright angered Republican Assembly colleagues in December when she abstained from a vote to oust Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco). Most of her colleagues voted for Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon (D-Whittier), one of five insurgent Democrats who had challenged Brown's leadership. Wright said she had promised constituents that she would not vote for any Democrat for speaker.
In addition, Ventura County District Attorney Michael D. Bradbury's office is completing its investigation into reports that Wright improperly sought to use her clout with judges, the Simi Valley Police Department and the state Department of Motor Vehicles to keep her frequently ticketed daughter, Victoria, from losing her driver's license or incurring other penalties.
Bradbury is expected to issue his report in early May.
Victoria Wright, who has received 27 traffic tickets since 1981, lost her license March 9. She is serving a 30-day jail term in the Ventura County work furlough program for violating conditions of her probation for a traffic offense.
Cathie Wright, who has refused comment pending the release of Bradbury's report, could not be reached Friday.