State Assemblyman John Campbell (R-Irvine) became the first announced candidate Thursday for the 35th District state Senate seat, which will be vacated by Republican Ross Johnson because of term limits.
"I told people when I first ran for office that if I liked it and was good at it, I would continue to pursue public office and try to help where I can," said Campbell, 47.
He was first elected to the Assembly in 2000.
The former owner of several Saturn and Saab dealerships in Orange County, Campbell was elected to a second two-year Assembly term in November.
"I have enjoyed what I've done," he said Thursday, "and people tell me they think I've done a reasonably good job. I'm running not because I need a job, but because I want to do the work."
His candidacy won the immediate endorsement of Johnson.
The primary election will be held in March 2004, followed by a general election that November.
"In a few short years," Johnson said in a statement released Thursday, "John Campbell has become one of the most effective members of the Assembly Republican Caucus. John is a principled conservative who will do an outstanding job."
A spokesman for the county's Democratic Party -- which does not yet have an announced candidate for the seat -- disagreed.
"From a practical standpoint," said Frank Barbaro, party chairman, "[Campbell and Johnson] are almost political clones. Neither of them has delivered anything to Orange County or their constituents, and if Campbell runs for Johnson's seat, I don't see much of a change.
"They need to go up to Sacramento and play bipartisan -- not partisan -- politics. They need to stop assessing blame, and start working on answers."
If elected, Campbell said, he intends to continue working on the issues that have marked his political career: the state budget, fiscal responsibility, privacy and coastal protection.