Brea City Councilman Ron Isles said Monday that he is "95% certain" he will run for state Sen. William Campbell's (R-Hacienda Heights) seat in a special election next spring following Campbell's announced resignation in January.
Isles, who said he would reveal his final decision about the race on Wednesday, is the third Republican to express an interest in the seat, which straddles the boundary between Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The others are Assemblymen Frank Hill (R-Whittier) and Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach).
Although he has held only local office, Isles, 51, could be a strong contender because he is willing to spend up to $500,000 of his own money on the campaign, he said. Isles, a lawyer and former congressional candidate, said he expects the race to cost at least $750,000.
In a statement, Isles also indicated that political ethics may be an issue in the race.
"At a time when ethics and morals are high in the minds of the American people, it is my opinion the candidates who decide to enter this contest better not be carrying any political baggage," the statement said.
In an interview, Isles said the statement was not aimed at either Ferguson or Hill, both of whom have been accused of ethical violations. "All I'm saying is that anyone who goes for the seat is going to come under close scrutiny," he said.
Hill is under investigation by the FBI in connection with its Capitol Hill sting operation last year that involved influence peddling. Ferguson was accused in 1988 of not properly reporting some of his personal income.
The three would be vying for the 31st District seat, stretching from Whittier to Mission Viejo. Campbell, the influential incumbent, announced last week that he will resign in January to take a job as head of the California Manufacturers Assn.
Gov. George Deukmejian is expected to call for a special election, possibly as early as next March.
Isles has served about four years on the Brea City Council. He was elected in 1980 and left in 1983. He was reelected to the council last November.
In 1986, Isles was a declared candidate for U.S. Rep. William Dannemeyer's congressional seat when Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) indicated that he would not seek reelection. Isles said he withdrew his candidacy when Dannemeyer reconsidered and ran.
Isles also was considered by the governor in 1987 to fill a vacancy on the County Board of Supervisors when Bruce Nestande resigned. Deukmejian instead appointed Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez.
Isles created and operated Isles Industries, an electronics equipment manufacturing firm in Brea, for more than 40 years before it was sold.