By Martin Henderson
Steve Baric, one of six candidates running for state assembly in the 73rd district, is the first of the group to remove himself from contention.
Baric, a city councilman in Rancho Santa Margarita and former vice-chair of the California Republican Party, made the formal announcement on Tuesday, he said, when a blogger friend “blasted it out there.”
He was among six hopefuls vying to replace termed out assemblywoman Diane Harkey, who is running for the State Board of Equalization. Baric, who announced his decision to run in April, had carried the endorsement of Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Baric had previously worked in the district attorney’s office prosecuting gang members. He said his decision to pull out of the election had to do with his work and home life.
An attorney by trade, Baric has become active in the area of human trafficking and victim’s rights. He said Wednesday he has an opportunity to form a legal team with “a pretty significant guy” that presents “a great financial opportunity.”
The other reason is even more heartfelt. Baric has a young son and doesn’t want to be away from his family for extended periods.
“When I started staring at the reality of going to Sacramento in the face, it’s four nights a week away from home," he said, calling it senseless from both a financial and familial standpoint. “It was early enough in the race I could get out of it.”
The race now includes his colleague on the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council, Jesse Petrilla, as well as Capistrano Unified School District trustee Anna Bryson, former Laguna Niguel mayor Paul Glaab, Dana Point councilman Bill Brough (Harkey’s former chief of staff), and Irvine Valley College professor Wendy Gabriella.
Gabriella, a Constitutional attorney specializing in Open Meeting Act cases, is the only Democrat in the bunch.
Baric will still log a few miles on the campaign trail. He has been an announced guest by Petrilla for a fundraiser tonight in Coto de Caza.
“I imagine he would ask me to speak, but I want to make it clear I’m not endorsing him nor have I endorsed anyone else in the race,” Baric said, adding he will likely be a guest at events for Bryson and Glaab later this month.
He was unsure if he would endorse any candidate.
"I guess it would depend on how the race develops and the positions that candidates take," Baric said. "Right now, from my perspective, I’m not endorsing anyone."
The 73rd Assembly District includes Aliso Viejo, Coto de
Caza, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente
and San Juan Capistrano.
Baric said he was unsure whether he would seek reelection as a city councilman in RSM, but would make that decision over the next few months.