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RP BLAKESLEE SWORN IN.JPGAfter a bruising and expensive Aug. 17 special election, Sam Blakeslee took the oath today to become the California state Senate's latest addition.

Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, was sworn in by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the Sacramento Democrat who had mustered forces to try to defeat Blakeslee and grab the seat from the GOP.

The two embraced on the Senate Floor after Blakeslee, who resigned from the Assembly, took his oath at 11 a.m. A number of senators from both parties were on hand to congratulate Blakeslee.

"Sam's a good guy," Steinberg told the Bee. The GOP senator representing the 15th district replaces Abel Maldonado, a GOP senator from the Central Coast district who was named lieutenant governor this year.

Blakeslee said he believes "compromise is possible" as legislators face a $19 billion deficit and getting an already overdue budget approved. Blakeslee billed himself as a moderate in his campaign, and could he provide key votes during the budget battle.

Steinberg and Democrats have a package of ideas on the table for tax changes they say could provide revenue but offer Californians federal tax breaks to make up for losses.

Republican leaders haven't responded warmly to package. Blakeslee told the Bee, "I wouldn't characterize it (the entire package) as a non-starter at all."

He said tax reform is a good idea - but increasing the tax burden is not.

Photo: Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, gets sworn in as the newest senator. His daughter Landis, 7, and wife Kara participate in the event. Randy Pench/ The Sacramento Bee



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