Capitol Alert

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin endorses in U.S. Senate race – and it’s a Republican

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin speaks during her state of the city address at the Fresno Convention Center on June 3, 2015.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin speaks during her state of the city address at the Fresno Convention Center on June 3, 2015. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, considered an ascending figure in her battered state GOP, refused to take sides in the last gubernatorial race.

Even after Republican Neel Kashkari advanced to the general election, dispatching conservative then-Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Swearengin, then a candidate for state controller, continued to leave open the possibility that she would vote for Democratic incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown.

Now, as three GOP candidates compete for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Swearengin is making her preference clear: She’s endorsing Duf Sundheim, a moderate in the mold of Kashkari. The other two GOP candidates are Assemblyman Rocky Chávez and Tom Del Beccaro.

“I support Duf because he stands for common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our families and our cities, and he’s played an active role in providing the accountability and transparency in government that California taxpayers deserve,” Swearengin said in a statement issued by the Sundheim campaign Wednesday.

Sundheim has been realistic about his chances in a state that strongly favors Democrats, in this case Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange. In jest, he’s likened his candidacy to Matt Damon’s character in the “The Martian,” because “most people don’t know Damon is alive.”

“But that does not affect him,” Sundheim said in a recent fundraising plea. “He knows the path to success is to focus on the task at hand with enthusiasm.”

On Wednesday, he celebrated the endorsement on Twitter, writing “It is all about the ability to bring people together to make a difference.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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