Portantino's race for 25th district starts

Former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino has only been home from Sacramento for six months, but the La Cañada Flintridge resident is already gearing up for his next shot at office — the State Senate seat in the 25th district.

That seat, currently held by Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), will open up in 2016 when Liu must leave office due to term limits. The 25th district, established during last year's redistricting, includes Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada.

Portantino, a Democrat, said Friday that he is getting back into politics because people in his district want him to keep pushing for transparency in government and funding for education.

In 2011, Portantino called for the financial disclosure of elected state officials after leaders of his own party slashed his budget and ordered temporary layoffs of his office staff. Portantino said it was in retaliation for not supporting the state budget proposed by his party's leadership that year.

The furloughs were eventually lifted.

The Los Angeles Times and other newspapers filed suit to force disclosure of the financial data.

"Since I left office, so many folks have been coming up to me saying, 'We want you back in office. How can we help?'" Portantino said. "Frankly, I think that's why so many people in the foothills are supporting me.... I share the same priorities they do."

To that end, Portantino's reelection campaign is having a fundraising party on Sunday at the home of Mary and Bill Urquhart.

An Anthony Portantino for Senate 2016 election committee has already received $476,366 as of Dec. 31, 2012. The next filing is due at the end of this month.

Caro Avanessian, president of the Glendale Democratic Club, said it is too early for club members to decide who they would be backing, especially with rumors circulating that Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) would be making a run for the same Senate seat.

"I don't know who else is going to throw their hat in the ring," he said. "I think [Portantino] would be a fantastic candidate.... It's going to be a very difficult choice."

Gatto, who will also be termed out of office in 2016, said that with three and a half years remaining until the next election for the 25th Senate district — and with him facing a reelection bid for the Assembly in 2014 — it is premature to talk about running for the Senate.

"I find it a little distasteful that anybody would be so ambitious, we'll say, to start a campaign that is 3 1/2 years away," he said. "To try to predict what will happen 3 1/2 years away, it's not only a fool's errand, but I think it's disrespectful to the incumbent senator."


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