Republican mayor of Fresno enters state controller race

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, left, greeted President Obama last month when he visited Fresno to discuss California's ongoing drought. Swearengin filed as a candidate for the state controller's office this week.
(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

SACRAMENTO -- Two-term Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is launching a bid for state controller, her campaign announced Wednesday.

Swearengin, a Republican, injects the GOP into a race that has so far been an intra-party battle between two high-profile Democrats, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, of Los Angeles, and Betty Yee, a member of the State Board of Equalization.

The top two vote-getters in the June primary, regardless of party, will advance to the November general election.


The dueling campaigns offered different takes on Swearengin’s credentials to take on the role of the state’s top bookkeeper. Fresno has been on precarious financial footing, with city officials raising the possibility of bankruptcy in recent years. The fiscal outlook has improved slightly in the last few months.

Tim Clark, spokesman for Swearengin’s campaign, said the mayor “has been lauded nationally for her fiscal stewardship of the city of Fresno. Additionally, her strong background in economic and job growth policy is a perfect fit for the office state controller which has tremendous influence over California’s tax and regulatory policy.”

“We look forward to a discussion about fiscal responsibility in the controller’s race and welcome Ashley Swearengin to it,” said Douglas Herman, strategist for the Perez campaign. “She is a rising star in the state Republican Party, despite nearly driving the city of Fresno into bankruptcy during her term as mayor.”

The Yee campaign declined to comment on Swearengin’s entrance to the race.

Swearengin was first elected as mayor in 2008 and won reelection in 2012. She filed her official statement of candidacy Tuesday, said Clark, and will make a formal announcement to launch her campaign next week.