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It's official: Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, formally announced his candidacy to be California's next secretary of state.

In a press release, Padilla emphasized boosting election turnout and called for tougher campaign finance laws. He also mentioned reducing a backlog in new business filings that has been hovering over the secretary of state's office.

"The strength of our democracy depends on the active involvement of all of our citizens," Padilla said. "Last November, more than 10 MILLION Californians did not vote. I'm running for Secretary of State to change that."

The announcement isn't a big surprise. The term-limited veteran legislator had already opened a committee seeking the office that current Secretary of State Debra Bowen will vacate at the end of her second term in 2014.

Padilla also has a campaign website up and running.

He will be vying with Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who is also taking aim at the secretary of state gig. Yee got the jump on Padilla in terms of campaign launches, declaring his candidacy back in November. Yee struck a collegial tone in a Thursday morning press release.

"I welcome my colleague from Pacoima to the race for Secretary of State," Yee said. "I look forward to this campaign and discussing with Alex ways we can modernize the office of Secretary of State, improve our elections, and bring a more transparent government to California."

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, during a floor debate on Feb. 18, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

Editor's note: An initial version of this post incorrectly spelled Pacoima.


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