State Sen. Cannella considers 2018 lieutenant governor’s race

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Merced, has filed a statement of intent to run for lieutenant governor in 2018, he confirmed Friday.

Cannella, 45, said he hasn’t made a final decision.

There are several reasons why the lieutenant governor position interests him, Cannella said. One of the main reasons is that the lieutenant governor sits on both the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees.

“Sitting on (the UC) board would give me the ability to have a voice when it comes to these matters,” Cannella said, referring to the regents’ adoption last year of a plan that would allow UC leaders to raise tuition by up to 5 percent annually over the next five years.

Cannella, who graduated from the University of California, Davis, said that when he attended college, tuition cost about $1,200 per year.

“Education was affordable, but that’s not the case now,” he said. “It should be everyone’s desire to educate our kids.”

Cannella also expressed concern about filling UC campuses with out-of-state students and losing California students when they seek higher education opportunities in the state.

The lieutenant governor is also a member of the state Lands Commission, the Commission of Economic Development and the California Emergency Council, and performs other duties.

Cannella said he has no long-term political career plan, but rather serves wherever he sees the need.

He has represented the state’s 12th Senate District since 2010. The district reaches across Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, San Benito and Monterey counties.

Before his election to the state Senate, he served as Ceres mayor, councilman and planning commissioner.

In the November election, Cannella defeated Democratic challenger Shawn Bagley, getting about 62 percent of the vote.

If he does decide to run for lieutenant governor in 2018, Cannella said the campaign will not take away from his responsibilities as a state senator.

“I just did it. I just got elected and ran a campaign, and it did not take away from duties,” he said. “I am very honored to have this position (state senator) and my first priority is this.”

Cannella estimates he would have to make a final decision on the lieutenant governor’s race by early 2018. He said this gives him enough time to make a well-thought-out decision.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.