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Hopefuls eye seats for ’12

Local candidates have begun to stir up support, funds

Posted: September 22, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: September 22, 2011 1:30 a.m.

While two Republican candidates have already announced they will seek the local Assembly seat in the 2012 election, the two Republican senators who represent the Santa Clarita Valley are more quietly going about campaigns for re-election.

Meanwhile, the Assemblyman who is being termed out off office says he might seek election to the Senate; or could seek a seat in Congress.

“I haven’t ruled anything out,” Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, said Wednesday.

Right now, Smyth said, he is concentrating on the task at hand — representing the people of Assembly District 38, which includes everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Smyth literally lives on a border between proposed new Senate districts — and that border could still move.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is charged with redrawing boundaries for the state’s Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization districts, as well as congressional districts, based on 2010 U.S. Census data.

In mid-August, the commission certified the state’s new legislative and congressional maps, prompting a weak thumbs-up from local representatives.

With the exception of a state Senate map that splits Santa Clarita north to south, the commission preserved a whole Santa Clarita Valley in its maps for Assembly, Congress and Board of Equalization.

The “final” Senate map, however, split the Santa Clarita Valley from north to south along The Old Road south of Highway 126. The dividing line then moves east from The Old Road along Magic Mountain Parkway, then south along McBean Parkway to Orchard Village Road.

The line then jogs along the dry river wash of the South Fork of the Santa Clara River to Railroad Avenue and Main Street, following Newhall Avenue all the way to Sierra Highway.

In July, when groups started talking about launching petitions to derail the proposed Senate map, Smyth said he feared the whole redistricting process was headed for the courts.

“I don’t think it matters what the commission comes up with,” he said at the time. “Ultimately, it will end in a court challenge.”

Now Smyth is waiting for that process to play out.

A redrawn Senate map — either the “final map” released by the commission last month or any possible alteration brought about by petitioners — could affect Smyth directly.

“The area where Cameron lives is really close to where the lines are drawn for Senate seats 27 and 21,” said Smyth spokesman Sean Hoffman. “So any tinkering with the lines would have an effect.”

Sitting on a Senate dividing line that could easily shift between now and the election next November has a forced a waiting game on Smyth.

Strickland running
Those gathering signatures to put the redistricting issue before voters are gaining momentum, according to state Sen. Tony Strickland, who represents the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley. Strickland said he plans to run for re-election but has not formally made that announcement.

“They raised their first million,” he said about petition signature-gatherers, “and they’re gaining momentum.”
Another political option open to Smyth is a run for a congressional seat.

“Whatever (Congressman Elton) Gallegly (of the 24th Congressional District) decides to do will have an effect on what I decide,” Smyth said. “As I say, right now, I’m happy to serve in the Assembly.”

In the meantime, Smyth is focusing on “being ready and being prepared” for the future.

Strickland also said Gallegly’s decision “could shake things up” for the November 2012 race.

Runner to seek return
So far, more than $73,470 has been raised for the Cameron Smyth for Senate 2012 fund, according to the latest figures published by the California Secretary of State.

“After I finished my last election, there were no more Assembly seat options,” Smyth said. “And, since we don’t know what the future holds, we thought it best to open up a Senate account so that we’ll be ready.”

Again, Smyth cited unresolved issues posed by disputed Senate districts.

“With redistricting, not everybody has made a decision. Any decision could open things up and could create a domino effect.”

By comparison, Senators Strickland and Sharon Runner have raised $325,966 and $35,950, respectively for each of their respective Senate 2012 funds.

Runner, who represents the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley, told The Signal Wednesday that she will run for re-election next year.

“Yes, I will run,” she said. “It’s a great seat for me. I want to work to get more jobs for Californians and work putting more people back to work.”


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