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BURLINGAME — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin may be the best hope for California Republicans to reclaim a statewide office in November.

But the 41-year-old rising star of the party and candidate for state controller was taking things slowly here at the state GOP convention this weekend.

"We really want to draw attention to how important this office is for the things that we would like to see in California: Economic competitiveness and managing the state's resources," she said in an interview.

"It's just an often-overlooked position," she added. "As I've talked with people around the convention this weekend, and I start laying out all of the things that are included in the state controller's job description, everyone's eyes are getting big and they are starting to realize this is an important office."

Swearengin is running to succeed Democrat John Chiang, who is termed out and vying for state treasurer. Her primary opponents include Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, both Democrats.

Swearengin was re-elected as mayor in 2012. Tim Clark, her political consultant, told The Bee the campaign has received many unsolicited offers of help from donors and party activists.

"It's just been very exciting trying to manage this excitement," he said.

PHOTO: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin at the state GOP convention in Burlingame. Christopher Cadelago/The Sacramento Bee



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