Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals’ hat isn’t quite in the ring as a candidate for California Assembly, but it’s teetering on the edge.
“I want to explore if this is a seat that is winnable by a Democrat,” Shoals said, adding he would probably make a final decision in the coming weeks.
The District 33 seat, which covers SLO County and portions of Santa Barbara County, will be incumbent-free next year. Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee has held the seat since 2004 and will term out in 2010. Blakeslee himself has formed a committee to run for the state Senate seat that will be left vacant in 2012 by termed-out Senator Abel Maldonado.
Shoals said “there is some strong interest” for him to run for the seat. He was the first elected mayor in Grover Beach in 2008 after the city decided to elect rather than rotate mayors. Shoals has served on the City Council since 2002 and was rotated in as mayor during his last two- year term.
But Shoals said a run for state office has been part of his long-range plan. A registered Democrat—he described himself as a moderate—Shoals could have a tough campaign to unhinge the district’s and county’s Republican lean.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in SLO County 62,492 to 56,071, as of the most recent voter tally. Blakeslee handily won the seat in 2008 with 64 percent.
SLO County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian also announced his intention to run on the Republican ticket. Achadjian is a well-known 10-year veteran in county politics and the only Republican candidate for the Assembly seat so far.