Sam Blakeslee, the Central Coast’s Republican assemblyman for the past six years, will run for the state Senate seat vacated by the ascendancy of Abel Maldonado to the lieutenant governorship.
In a conversation with The Tribune’s editorial board on Thursday, Blakeslee said he will make the official announcement this morning in a news conference at his home in San Luis Obispo.
In seeking the office, Blakeslee said the 33rd Assembly District and the larger 15th Senate District are “remarkably similar” in their focus on agriculture, protecting the environment and in other ways.
Blakeslee will run as a conservative Republican who seeks to build consensus with Democrats.
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He said he is respected in the Assembly for seeking bipartisan solutions to problems, and he will carry that over to the Senate. He said partisan “bomb-throwers” don’t accomplish much.
Blakeslee added that he expects to continue providing constituent service, as he said he has done with the Los Osos sewer project and safety improvements at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and Atascadero State Hospital.
He said returning jobs to California will be a major theme of his campaign, and he will focus on streamlining costly regulations as well as tax reform.
“We need major tax reform,” he said. That includes closing loopholes, reducing the volatility of revenues, and modernizing the system to recognize that the state is competing on an international scale with China and other nations.
On other issues, Blakeslee said:
• He will not endorse any of the four Republicans who are seeking to succeed him in the Assembly.
• He does not support Arizona’s new immigration law.
• He supports the county’s call to the governor to restore payments for the Williamson Act, which protects agricultural interests and the environment.
• He does not know how much it will cost to win the election, but it could be as much as $2 million. He has amassed about $500,000 so far.
Blakeslee is expected to face opposition from former Assemblyman John Laird of Santa Cruz, a Democrat. Others may enter the race as well, with the filing date open until May 10.
The special primary election for the Senate seat will be held June 22. If nobody takes 50 percent plus one of the votes, there will be a runoff election in August.