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Strickland.jpgSen. Tony Strickland has made his plans to run for Congress official, launching his campaign at a Camarillo news conference for the newly drawn 26th Congressional District.

The Moorpark Republican decided to enter the race after longtime Rep. Elton Gallegly announced plans to retire. Gallegly, who lives in Simi Valley, had been considering a run in the incumbent-free CD26 after his own home was drawn into the same district as fellow GOP Rep. Buck McKeon.

Strickland, who served three terms in the Assembly before being elected to the state Senate in 2008, cited national security and promoting alternative energy sources as top issues for his campaign.

"I expect the campaign ahead to be spirited but I'm committed to uniting our community; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents behind policies that create jobs and economic opportunity for those struggling to make ends meet," he said in a statement.

The open swing seat has already attracted a half dozen local officials, most of whom are Democrats, as possible candidates, according to an analysis by AroundtheCapitol.com.

Strickland's move opens the door for another Republican to run in the 27th Senate District, a swing seat that is expected to see one of the most contested state legislative races of 2012. Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, is reportedly considering a run, but is waiting for the Supreme Court to signal what it will do if a referendum of the Senate map qualifies. He would face Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and possibly former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, urges lawmakers to reject a plan to extend a tax increase for another year to help close California's state budget deficit, at the Capitol in Sacramento, June 10, 2011. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli)



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