(Fresno Bee) - Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, considered by some to be an up-and-coming Republican Party star, is testing that theory by running for state controller.
Swearengin -- who still has almost three years left in her second and final mayoral term -- filed paperwork and paid $2,783.78 in fees Tuesday afternoon at the Fresno County Elections Office, said Tim Clark, her campaign consultant.
"I am very serious about getting into this race," Swearengin said Wednesday. "I love the role of public service, and frankly I'm ready for the next challenge."
Swearengin, 41, was first elected mayor in 2008, and easily won re-election in 2012. She was CEO of the Regional Jobs Initiative prior to being elected mayor.
She said running for state controller was the next logical step. It is a position, she said, that has the biggest influence over California's business climate and economic development. Those areas were her focus, she said, both as mayor and at the Regional Jobs Initiative.
Controller, Swearengin said, "is sometimes an overlooked function of state government, but one that has a tremendous impact on the business climate in the state."
There are still additional steps Swearengin must take to finalize her candidacy for the statewide run. These technical steps must be done by Friday to get on the ballot, and she said any run won't be set in stone until then.
But Clark, her consultant, said that's a formality.
"This is official," he said.
Winning the post, however, will be a much greater challenge because this is a blue state in which Democrats enjoy a 15-percentage-point voter-registration advantage over Republicans.
"I think she'd have a really tough time winning statewide office," said Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College, located in the Bay Area city of Atherton. "The (voter) registration numbers are against her."
Swearengin will likely face Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee in the June primary, and possibly others. Under state primary election rules, only the top two will move on to the November general election.
But Clark predicted that Swearengin will be the only Republican on the ballot, which should move her through to the November general election. Both Perez and Yee are Democrats.