California Sen. Alex Padilla is campaigning hard — just not for himself or anyone else, it seems.
Padilla, now a Republican candidate for the state Senate, went to a conservative rally in Sacramento last week to give a speech supporting Republican businessman and former state Supreme Court Justice Pro Tem Kevin Shelley.
But the senator was hardly alone. And if his campaign is just one part of a bigger effort to win over conservative voters who did the bidding on him, it’s working.
“He’s the only Republican in the field who has endorsed me,” Padilla said in a recent interview. “I guess he thinks he can pick one off the shelf.”
Padilla is running against fellow Republican Rep. Connie Conway, in a race that has drawn national attention and has been described as perhaps the most important California state legislative race this year.
Shelley, the state’s third-ranking official, says Padilla told him he was backing him because he wasn’t “a politician.”
Padilla, a former top aide to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a former Republican Assemblywoman and the daughter of a U.S. Rep. from Sacramento.
He has a history of running for office and is best known in Sacramento for his 2006 race against Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee for the 5th Congressional District. The district stretches across suburban Richmond and has always been considered a safe Republican district. But Padilla lost to Yee, then ran again in 2014 and beat Yee by 18 percentage points, with conservative voters deciding he’d beaten their own representative.
Padilla, an Eagle Scout, is now campaigning as a libertarian, railing against immigration and taxes.
“I’m running as a libertarian because I believe in limited government and less government,” he said in an interview.
He is trying to convince voters who are unhappy with his Republican opponent that he’s more conservative than her.
“We have a $28 billion sales tax. It’s the highest property tax in the nation,” Pad