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BB JOHN LAIRD.JPGA key California state Senate race is getting oily.

Democrat John Laird unveiled a new TV ad today lashing out at GOP rival Sam Blakeslee as a "former Exxon executive" who wants to "drill, baby, drill" in coastal waters.

Laird invokes images of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and says he's the one to protect the Central Coast Senate district the two want to represent.

The rivals will face off June 22 in a special election to replace newly minted Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a Republican. The 15th Senate district runs from northern Santa Barbara County, through all of San Luis Obispo and parts of Monterey, Santa Cruz and southern San Clara counties.

The race is critical to both parties. If Laird wins the election, he would take the Democrats' Senate majority up to 26 -- one vote short of a two-thirds majority needed to pass a new tax or a budget in that house.

Laird is a former Santa Cruz mayor and state assemblyman from that area. Blakeslee is an assemblyman from San Luis Obispo who worked as a research geophysicist for Exxon in Texas.

View Laird's TV ad by clicking here

PHOTO CREDIT: John Laird, then the Assembly budget chairman, listens on the floor of the State Assembly, Nov 6, 2008. Sacramento Bee file photo / Brian Baer.



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