State Sen. Mimi Walters announced Tuesday that she plans to run for the 45th Congressional District seat retiring U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) will vacate next year.
Walters, a Republican, currently represents the 37th District in the California Senate. The district includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine and portions of Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach.
"John Campbell has served the people of Orange County, California and the United States with distinction and with a commitment to a firm set of principles," Walters said in a prepared statement. "He will leave behind some big shoes to fill. In Congress, I will continue to fight for the fiscal responsibility, less intrusive government and property rights, and look forward to representing our special part of Orange County in the nation's capital."
The 45th Congressional District includes Irvine, Tustin, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and portions of Anaheim and Orange.
Supervisor John Moorlach, a Republican who represents District 2 on the five-member Orange County Board of Supervisors, also said Tuesday that he is exploring running for the congressional seat — he recently ruled out a bid to run for governor against incumbent Jerry Brown — and has received positive feedback so far.
Moorlach, who will be termed out of the board next year, said he hasn't made a formal announcement yet, but that after a recent dinner with family, they gave him "the green light" to move forward. He will be working on fundraising and other aspects of a potential campaign.
"So far, so good," Moorlach said. "Everything's positive … full speed ahead and having fun."
He said the news about Campbell came as a surprise.
"It wasn't on the radar screen," Moorlach said.
The Costa Mesa resident doesn't currently live within the 45th Congressional District, though per federal law, it does not prevent him from running for it.
Moorlach said he has served the area in the past as the county treasurer, and that he would consider moving to the district if he won.
Walters said Tuesday that U.S. Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista), as well as Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, have endorsed her.
Walters, a UCLA graduate, got her start in politics as a member in the Laguna Niguel City Council 1996.
Campbell, who is serving out his fifth term, announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2014.
"At the end of this term, I will have spent 14 years serving in full-time, elected politics," Campbell said in a prepared statement. "I am not, nor did I ever intend to be, a career politician. I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life."
Campbell was elected to the newly redrawn 45th Congressional District seat in the November general election. He won the seat against former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang with 58.5% of the vote.
He was first elected to Congress in a 2005 special election to serve the 48th Congressional District. He had the seat until 2012, when the district was redrawn.