Republican David Hadley, who served one term in the Assembly before losing a rematch last fall, said Friday he is exploring a run for California governor, potentially providing his troubled party a moderate standard-bearer in 2018.
Hadley said he’s had conversations with people across the state, but the opening of his campaign committee Friday was the first public indication of his plans. “It’s out there, baby,” he said.
“I am talking with people, including other potential (Republican) candidates,” Hadley, of Manhattan Beach, added in a phone interview. “I am excited about the possibility, but I am not yet committed to doing it. It’s a big step, and I am going to give it the exploration it deserves.”
Republicans are heavy underdogs, and Hadley acknowledged that his party, deeply in the minority, risks falling out of the runoff entirely if too many Republicans split the vote. Republican John Cox, a businessman from Rancho Santa Fe, recently announced his candidacy.
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Democratic heavyweights are already raising millions for the race.
“In this left-leaning state, and top-two world, (the) Republican Party doesn’t have a birthright,” Hadley said.
He pointed to the U.S. Senate race last year where two Democrats, including now-Sen. Kamala Harris, advanced to November after one of Hadley’s then-colleagues, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, dropped out amid fundraising challenges.
Despite voting with Democrats more often than most in the GOP, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis, his opponent in last fall’s Assembly race, Democrat Al Muratsuchi, repeatedly tied Hadley to Donald Trump’s most controversial policy proposals, even releasing a website called hadleytrump.com.
The pressure became so much Hadley wrote in a column in The Torrance Daily Breeze that he wouldn’t be voting for either Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“Both have shown themselves unfit for the highest office in the land. Neither reflects the South Bay values that this citizen legislator is trying to bring to Sacramento,” he wrote.
Notwithstanding the Democrats’ efforts, Hadley topped Trump's performance in the 66th Assembly District by nearly 14 percentage points.