Never mind that her assemblyman husband is less than a month into his final two-year term representing the Thousand Oaks area.
Audra Strickland, 28, made loud and clear Thursday her intention to succeed Republican Tony Strickland in the November 2004 election by showing off an already enviable campaign kitty.
By the end of December, Strickland had amassed nearly $111,000 for her run, according to finance statements released by her campaign. Contributions since then put the total at nearly $130,000, said Joel Angeles, an aide in her husband's office.
The Ventura teacher has also secured endorsements from such local Republican heavyweights as Sheriff Bob Brooks, former Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury and state Sen. Tom McClintock, Angeles said.
"We just want people to know that she's got some support," said Angeles in explaining Strickland's early show of strength.
Even though the Republican primary is still 13 months away, it's to Strickland's advantage to let potential competitors know what they will face, said Herb Gooch, head of the political science department at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.
"The strategy is to fend off any other people who might want to file," Gooch said. "An amount that much is also telling you that Tony Strickland is going to use his office and his position in the Republican Assembly Caucus as much as possible to help his wife."
Several rivals to Strickland are already being mentioned. They include former Thousand Oaks Councilman Dan Del Campo, Ventura County investigator Jeff Gorrell and Mike Robinson, an aide to McClintock. Robinson said he could not comment on a possible run while still working for McClintock, but said he intends to leave McClintock's office "very soon."
Angeles denied that Audra Strickland is trying to eliminate any competition.
"If they have second thoughts, that's for them to decide," he said.
Tony Strickland, who has held the office since 1998, will be forced to step down in 2004 because of term limits.