With the Democratic field unsettled, Republican California Assemblyman Rocky Chávez said Tuesday he is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer in two years.
“Our nation suffers from a lack of clear leadership when it comes to issues of national security and looking out for California families who have seen stagnant wage growth for almost two decades,” said Chávez, a retired Marine colonel who served in the administration of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“My story is like that of so many other California families, having worked in the grape fields with my uncle and cousins as a child to seeing one of my own children attend an Ivy League medical school. That’s the American Dream, and it's what every parent hopes to see for their own children. But if we don't take steps to protect our nation and help create more opportunities for our children, we risk losing that Dream.”
Chávez, who represents Oceanside in northern San Diego County, becomes the first elected Republican to formally consider what analysts from both sides of the aisle believe will be an uphill challenge for a GOP candidate given the state’s decidedly blue tilt. The formation of an exploratory committee allows him to raise money to test support for a statewide run.
On the Democratic side, Attorney General Kamala Harris remains the only announced candidate in the race, with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa commanding much of the rest of the attention.
In his statement, Chávez described his approach as a fiscally conservative and socially moderate. In his 2012 election, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy state GOP benefactor Charles Munger Jr. to fend off a more conservative fellow Republican in a same-party November run-off.
Chávez previously served as a city councilman in the northern San Diego County military town of Oceanside and was acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
“My strong history of leadership and compelling personal narrative give me great confidence,” Chávez said. “I believe we can start a movement that will make a real difference in the lives of California families.”
Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago.