Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican candidate for state controller, held an open house Tuesday evening at her campaign office in downtown Fresno.
The event was supposed to start at 6 p.m., but people were arriving a half-hour early. Dozens of supporters chatted with Swearengin, munched on snacks, sipped water (or adult beverages) and toured the suite of rooms that once was home to an attorney.
Speaking to reporters, Swearengin said Fresno in the past five years learned the value of urgency when it comes to tackling economic challenges. “We can use that sense of urgency on the statewide level, as well,” she said.
Swearengin was quick to discuss the recent Field Poll that showed 28% of likely voters backing her in the crowded controller’s race, best of any candidate. State Board of Equalization board member Betty Yee (Democrat) was No. 2 at 19% and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (Democrat) was No. 3 at 14%. “We know we have a long campaign,” she said. “But we’re off to a good start.”
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It wasn’t many years ago that Swearengin along with a small army of city and business leaders labored late into many nights to get the Regional Jobs Initiative off the ground. Now, on April 15, 2014 (TAX DAY!), she was hosting a meet-and-greet as a candidate for statewide office.
“I learned a lot being the head of the Regional Jobs Initiative, working closely with literally hundreds of businesses in Fresno,” Swearengin said. “We’ve seen at the local level exactly what goes into helping those businesses succeed. Eleven years ago, people were talking about the state business climate. They were talking about the same issues that plague the state today. I suppose (running for statewide office) is a natural progression."
Campaign adviser Tim Clark said the Fresno office will be the only Swearengin campaign office in the state. He said the suite (which came furnished) should be full of staffers and interns in a couple of weeks. Swearengin will focus first on her mayoral duties (2015-16 budget and 2035 general plan update are top priorities) at nearby City Hall, then head to the campaign office to call potential supporters/donors.
“The Field Poll gave us a real shot in the arm,” Clark said. “Everyone’s energized.”
Clark said Perez in the June 3 primary will be strong in Southern California and Yee should do well in Northern California. Clark said he’s counting on Swearengin doing well with all voters in the San Joaquin Valley while capturing essentially all of the Republican vote from the Oregon border to the Mexican border.
The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the November general election.
I did not see Mark Standriff at the event. Standriff is communications director for the California Republican Party. His last day on that job will be Friday. Next Monday, Standriff will become the city of Fresno’s director of communications. Both Swearengin and Standriff said he will have nothing to do with Swearengin’s campaign for controller.