Berryhill to run for Cogdill's Senate seat

State Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, announced Wednesday that he will run for the state Senate seat being vacated next year by fellow Republican Dave Cogdill.

Meanwhile, former Modesto Councilwoman Janice Keating said she is considering a run for Berryhill's seat in the Assembly.

And Kristin Olsen, elected to a second term on the council last month, said she is focused on city business but would not rule out a possible Assembly run.

Berryhill, first elected in 2006, will seek the Republican nomination in the June primary in the 14th Senate District.

A 56-year-old grape grower, Berryhill cited his participation in bipartisan legislative efforts, including water development and a bill aimed at fighting metal theft.

"One of my biggest strengths since I've been up here has been to reach across the aisle to do things for the good of the state, and I would like to continue that," he said.

"Certainly, we're hoping to maintain the fight to not put this tax burden on the people of the state of California," Berryhill said of the struggle to control state spending and taxes.

The 14th District takes in parts of Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Madera and Fresno counties and all of Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. As of May, 47 percent of its registered voters were Republicans and 34 percent Democrats.

Berryhill lives in a part of Modesto outside the district but plans to move soon. He said he plans to remain in the city.

He is the brother of Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, and the son of the late Clare Berryhill, who served in the state Legislature and as California secretary of food and agriculture.

Berryhill's candidacy "is good news for Tom and good news for Republicans and good news for the district," said Joan Clendenin, vice chairwoman of the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee.

Cogdill last month surprised Republicans with his announcement that he would not seek a second four-year term in the Senate. He served in the Assembly from 2000 to 2006.

Cogdill is not yet endorsing a candidate to succeed him but does consider Berryhill "a great partner" in serving their similar districts, said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the senator.

The only other announced Republican candidate is Heidi Fuller of Columbia, who has criticized Cogdill for not fighting taxes hard enough.

Berryhill's announcement could mean a wide-open race next year in his 25th Assembly District, which covers parts of Stanislaus and Madera counties and all of Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Mono counties.

"I have seriously thought about running," said Keating, a Republican who finished her seven-year council tenure Tuesday. "It would be an exciting opportunity."

Olsen, who also is a Republican, said the opening in the Assembly took her by surprise.

"I wouldn't rule it out, but whoever it is has to be someone who can bring common sense and accountability to Sacramento," she said.

As of May, Republicans had a 42 percent to 37 percent edge over Democrats in voter registration in the district.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at or 578-2385.