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p_peterson_1.jpgA Southern California Republican who runs a public policy institute is getting in the race to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Debra Bowen as the state's chief elections official.

Pete Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, announced his candidacy in a statement released today, saying the state "is in desperate need of reform."

"With many Californians struggling to make ends meet or worrying about their economic future, it is crucial we encourage public engagement inside and outside of the voting booth," Peterson said in the statement. "Using technology to encourage voter registration, voter turnout, and government transparency will increase public involvement in the democratic process."

Peterson is the first Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the office, which will be up for grabs in 2014 when Bowen steps down due to term limits. Democratic state Sens. Alex Padilla and Leland Yee have already joined the race, while campaign finance reform advocate Derek Cressman, also a Democrat, is considering a bid. Several other current and former Democratic legislators have filed paperwork for a potential run.

Peterson, who lives in Santa Monica, took a dig at the political resumes of those rivals, saying he sees "this office as a means to change the direction of California, not as a stepping stone for professional politicians."

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Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Peterson is a first-time candidate. He ran for a local position in New Jersey in 2005.

PHOTO: File photo of Pete Peterson via Associated Press.



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