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Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg has decided not to challenge incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley for a Southern California Senate seat.

Hertzberg had expressed interest in running for the newly drawn 27th Senate District, a Ventura County swing seat that includes area he previously represented in the state Assembly. But he said in a statement issued today that he has decided to instead focus on the campaign for a proposed budget and governance ballot measure backed by California Forward Issue Action Fund and the Think Long Committee for California.

"After thoughtful consideration, I have decided not to pursue a campaign for the State Senate," Hertzberg, who has worked closely with both California Forward and Think Long, said. "I believe the extraordinary challenges we face in California can best be met with big ideas and independent voices. Pursuing a partisan campaign at this time would inevitably distract from my top priority -- reforming our government to better serve its citizens."

The announcement comes weeks after Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, announced that he will run for an incumbent-free congressional seat instead of seeking re-election to the Senate in the district. Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, has been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for the Senate seat, but has yet to make a decision on the race.

Hertzberg's decision allows Senate Democrats to avoid a potentially costly and divisive same-party battle in an election that could deliver the caucus a two-thirds majority in the upper house. Two other potential high-profile challengers to incumbent Democrats bowed out of their respective races in recent weeks. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, dropped out of the race for Sen. Loni Hancock's Bay Area Senate seat and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, announced that he will not challenge Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, this year.



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