Andy Pugno is raising money for an Assembly campaign he once vowed not to run and now is undecided about.
Pugno's name will appear on the November ballot for a 6th Assembly District seat, based in Placer County, but he has not yet announced whether he will honor a pledge made months ago to step aside if Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, a fellow Republican from Rocklin, beat him in the primary.
In a fundraising solicitation after last month's voting, Pugno celebrated his razor-thin second-place finish to Gaines and said that "we refuse to surrender to the liberal agenda of forcing conservatives to abandon our core values!" He also asked for contributions to "help support this important effort."
"Now we have to start thinking about the November runoff election," Pugno's solicitation said. "No doubt, the ultra-liberal special interests will come out again in force. Will regular people like you who stood with me in the primary election continue to stand strong and help us finish the job?"
Asked if the solicitation represents a commitment to battle Gaines, Pugno characterized it as exploratory. If the Folsom attorney folds his tent, contributions can be used to help defray primary campaign debt. Campaign committees are due to report post-primary finances July 31.
"I'm exploring the options and doing a lot of listening to voters, and my supporters," he said. "It's just taking some time to arrive at a decision. I'm not going to set a deadline."
Asked what response he has received in the newly drawn Assembly district, Pugno said, "Far more people have encouraged me to continue with the campaign than those who think I should suspend my campaign."
Months ago, while campaigning in the primary, Pugno released a flier promising to support Gaines if she finished ahead of him last month. They seek a newly drawn seat extending from Placer into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.
"We shouldn't have Republicans fighting each other," Pugno's flier said. "Therefore, I pledge to support whichever candidate is the top-finishing Republican in the June primary election, and call on my opponent incumbent legislator Beth Gaines to join me in that effort."
Gaines did not agree to such a deal, and Pugno's flier slammed her for it.
Dave Gilliard, Gaines' campaign manager, said that Pugno's recent fundraising signals that he'll run in November after all.
"It's pretty clear from this fundraising solicitation that that's his intention now," Gilliard said. "I suppose if it falls (apart) and he's not able to raise the money, it may end up being exploratory and he'll make a different decision."
"But right now, we have no choice but to conclude that he's running," Gilliard said.