A barrage of attacks from her Democratic rival has Ashley Swearengin, Fresno’s mayor and the Republican candidate for state controller, convinced her campaign is running strong.
Swearengin stopped by the Oakland Tribune’s office Monday afternoon to chat about the state of the race. The Field Poll last week found Swearengin trailing Democratic rival Betty Yee, a Board of Equalization member from Alameda, by 14 percentage points, though more than one in five likely voters remains undecided. Yee in recent days has attacked Swearengin’s stewardship of Fresno, and challenged her “Mayor/CEO” ballot designation.
“We’re very pleased with where we are,” Swearengin said Monday, adding that while Yee’s attacks are “so easily refutable,” they’re a sign that “they definitely take our campaign seriously.”
“My hope is that the other side continues to come at me with their inaccurate and misleading accusations,” she said.
Yee’s campaign has said that Swearengin’s Fresno is a place of fiscal disorder, unemployment, poverty and homelessness. But Swearengin defended her record saying she helped steer the city out of massive deficits exacerbated by the housing-market crash and recession; the city is now building its budget reserve and ranks among the state’s top job-creators, she said.
Yee was in Fresno last week seeking endorsements from the city’s police and firefighter unions, meeting with an agricultural group and holding a fundraiser. “She was definitely playing to the Sacramento insiders and those who support the status quo,” Swearengin said.
Despite several campaign events scheduled with other GOP statewide candidates, Swearengin continued to make her political independence a core talking point.
“I think Californians are tired of just checking the box for whatever their party affiliation is,” she said. “Most important to me is making sure that we’re reaching all the voters of Califonria, not just one party or the other.”
Reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office shows Yee has raised more money than Swearengin, but “we knew for certain we would be outspent,” Swearengin said.
“We’re working as hard as possible to get the resources we need to get the message out,” she said, adding her campaign will start its paid advertising soon. “We’ve got to make as much noise as possible and point out the importance of this seat and my qualifications.”