Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin took her first formal step Thursday toward joining the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer's bid for reelection.
In a written statement, Marin said she had formed an exploratory committee to prepare for a possible Senate campaign. The statement cast Boxer as too liberal for California, but offered little information on Marin's own ideological leanings.
The Senate race would be the first statewide campaign for Marin, who left her Bush administration job last month. She is a former mayor of Huntington Park, a city of 61,000 in southeast Los Angeles County. She was also Pete Wilson's chief liaison to the Latino community when he was governor of California.
If she enters the Republican primary, Marin would face another ex-Bush administration official and former small-town mayor: Toni Casey. Casey, who has already declared her candidacy, is a wealthy high-tech executive who was mayor of Los Altos Hills, a town of 7,900 in the Silicon Valley, and President Bush's director of intergovernmental affairs at the Small Business Administration.
In her statement, Marin struck familiar Republican criticisms of Boxer.
"The world has changed, but Barbara Boxer hasn't," Marin said. "She has spent the past 20 years in Congress attacking the military. We need a senator who understands the importance of national security in a very dangerous world. Furthermore, California deserves a senator who realizes the need for creating jobs by advocating for small businesses and fighting against tax increases."
Marin was unavailable for an interview, spokeswoman Janice Ploeger Glaab said.
Boxer strategist Roy Behr said Marin's comments "are the same things that the out-of touch Republicans have been saying about Barbara Boxer for the last 12 years, and every time they do it the voters of California say, 'Boxer represents our views and she's done a good job focusing on the issues that matter to us in our daily lives.' "
He also said voters are likely to question Marin's qualifications for the job.
"She's never done anything on health care or education," he said. Californians "don't know what her views are on any issues that matter to us, and frankly what credentials on national security does a former City Council member from the state's 116th largest city have?"
Times staff writer Matea Gold contributed to this report.