Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress), a political moderate who claims a long history of involvement in education issues, announced Monday she is running for the state Senate from the 35th District.
Allen, whose announcement wasn't a surprise, seeks to fill the seat vacated when former Republican state Sen. Marian Bergeson of Newport Beach won election to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
"This is an exciting time for people who believe in the Republican philosophy," Allen said. "We have an unparalleled opportunity for real reform of our education system, our tax system and our criminal justice system.
"But it will take someone who doesn't go along with the 'power boys in Sacramento.' . . . I believe I am that person."
The special election will be March 14, with a runoff scheduled May 9 if no candidate manages to gain more than 50% of the vote in the first contest.
Allen, standing in front of Huntington Beach High School to remind that she began her public career on the school district's board of trustees, waved a piece of legislation she introduced last week to help local school districts threatened by Orange County's bankruptcy.
She said the bill would "protect" financially strapped local school districts that have money tied up in the county's devalued investment pool by giving districts power over their own financial affairs, despite the county's bankruptcy.
"Our schools should not have to pay for the incompetence of the county treasurer. We must protect local control," the 12-year Assembly veteran said.
The county's elected treasurer-tax collector, Robert L. Citron, resigned after it was disclosed the county's investment pool had lost $2 billion, sparking the bankruptcy filing.
Running against Allen is former Republican Assemblyman Gil Ferguson of Newport Beach, whom some Republicans have attacked for purportedly advising Assemblyman Paul Horcher (I-Diamond Bar) to vote to keep Democrat Willie Brown as Assembly speaker. Horcher's was a key vote that kept the speakership from going to a Republican.
Allen said Monday, "I believe Gil gave Horcher the green flag" that led to his support for Brown.
Another likely rival for the Senate seat is Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-Placentia) who has not officially entered the race, but has until Jan. 30 to file candidacy papers.
After Allen's announcement, challenger Ferguson said he welcomes Allen's candidacy. Then the outspoken retired Marine lieutenant colonel took a shot at Allen for seeking higher office after just winning reelection to the Assembly.
"I'm sure the people who just voted for her are surprised," Ferguson said. "For someone who ran for office, asked for voter support, she shows a lack of integrity by turning her back and abandoning them."
Allen, whose 67th Assembly district is encompassed by Bergeson's state Senate district, said she would be representing the "same people and more" if elected.