HUNTINGTON BEACH — In an unusual move, City Councilman Wes Bannister on Friday said he may run for two offices in the Nov. 6 election.
Bannister said he may seek reelection to the City Council as well as run for state insurance commissioner. He is already the Republican nominee for insurance commissioner, having won the nomination in the June primary.
State Sen. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), the Democratic nominee, said Bannister "obviously doesn't want to be insurance commissioner, or he wouldn't even be talking about this possibility (of running for two offices). I think it's crazy."
Bannister's four-year term on the City Council expires this fall. Most political observers thought that he would not seek reelection, because he is running for a full-time state position. But Bannister said Friday that he is leaning toward running for the council again, as well as for the state office.
"I haven't made a final decision," he said, "but the way it is right now, I probably will run for City Council. I'm of course running for insurance commissioner, and I think I've got an outside chance of winning, but it's a long shot because my opponent, Sen. Garamendi, is going to raise about $3 million to $4 million for his fall campaign, and I'll maybe be able to raise $100,000. It's awfully hard to run a statewide campaign on that little money."
Bannister also said that if he were to lose the statewide race and not run for reelection to the council, "it would be hard to see someone else come on that council, someone with a diverging viewpoint, and destroy everything we've worked for. I'd have to give up on the things we've worked so hard to complete (in city government) in the last four years."
One report circulated among city politicians was that Bannister planned to run on a slate with former Councilman Jack Kelly, former City Administrator Paul Cook and incumbent Councilman John Erskine, who is likely to seek reelection this fall. Those four, according to some sources, would be supported by the powerful Huntington Beach Co.
But Bannister emphatically denied that he will run on a slate. "If I run for the council again, I'll be running solo," he said.
Four seats on the council are up for election.
Bannister's announcement threw kinks into the plans of other possible council candidates, most of whom had assumed that he would not be running for reelection. An incumbent usually has a much better chance of winning a council election, so Bannister's announcement threw cold water on some candidates' hopes.
Mayor Thomas J. Mays, whose term also expires in November, is running for the Assembly on Nov. 6 and has said he will not seek reelection to the council. Many slow-growth advocates in Huntington Beach had said they saw Mays' and Bannister's departures as a chance to capture a majority on the seven-member City Council. Mays and Bannister are considered pro-development.
Bob Biddle, president of Huntington Beach Tomorrow, a citizen group that says it stresses "planned development," criticized Bannister for thinking about running for two positions in November.
"Councilman Bannister has always been up front in his dealings, and we respect that," he said. "But the respect we in Huntington Beach Tomorrow have for him will evaporate if he runs for two offices. I think it would be a slap in the face of the Republican voters who endorsed him in the primary."
Garamendi said Bannister is showing "insincerity" to statewide voters by thinking of seeking two offices at the same time.
"If he doesn't want to be insurance commissioner, why doesn't he just say so and save everyone a lot of time?" Garamendi said.