Political Notebook

California Republican leader Olsen passes on Senate race

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, in her office at the Capitol on Dec. 2, 2014.
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, in her office at the Capitol on Dec. 2, 2014. rbenton@sacbee.com

Outgoing Assembly minority leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, has decided not to challenge Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, walking away from what could have been one of the marquee political battles of 2016.

Olsen’s decision caps months of speculation about a chance for California Republicans to expand their ranks by unseating an incumbent Democrat. Galgiani is one of the Senate’s most centrist and business-friendly Democrats, and voter registration in her district is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

But Olsen said that, although she believes she could win the race, she decided to pass on a campaign that would have put a heavy strain on her family.

“What it really came down to was what’s best for my family,” Olsen said during an interview in her office, adding that her three children “need more of my focus than an intense campaign against Cathleen Galgiani would allow.”

The race loomed over party leaders and interest groups drawing up a plan for where to spend money in 2016. Olsen said “it was my understanding” that California Republican Party would not spend to support her if she jumped in.

“Obviously that was something I had to consider,” Olsen said on Monday of the party holding off, though she added that “I feel I would have the support necessary to win even outside of the party’s decisions.”

Party officials did not respond to The Bee’s request for comment.

First elected in 2010, Olsen has only a year left in the Assembly before term limits force her out. She just ceded her leadership mantle to Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert