An Oakdale businessman is making a run for Republican Dave Cogdill's state Senate seat, entering a GOP primary that already includes an incumbent assemblyman and a Tuolumne County attorney.
Bret de St. Jeor argues that he'll stand out on the June 8 ballot as a fiscal conservative with extensive experience in business. He says he's frustrated with government overspending and accounting gimmicks that mask deficits in state budgets.
"It's gotten to the point where we need some good, responsible, successful business people to make a difference," he said.
De St. Jeor, president of a packaging and manufacturing company called Royal Summit, has not had experience running for public office. He'll face a well-funded lawmaker with cache in name recognition in Assemblyman Tom Berryhill of Modesto.
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Heidi Fuller, a Tuolumne County immigration attorney who is making fiscal responsibility a centerpiece of her campaign, also is in the race.
Cogdill has represented the 14th Senate District since 2006. It stretches from Lodi to Fresno, rolling along the Sierra Nevada through Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties.
He surprised many in his party in November when he announced that he would not seek re-election, a decision that prompted Berryhill to make a move for the Senate. Berryhill has moved to Oakdale to live in the district.
He's also not an easy target for Fuller and de St. Jeor because Berryhill has not voted for the kinds of tax increases that cost Cogdill a leadership post in the Senate GOP last year.
Like other outsider candidates this year, de St. Jeor says voters won't look kindly on incumbents when they head to the polls.
"As California was driven into a recession, our career politicians continued to borrow and spend taxpayer's money that they didn't have," he said.
Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.