Former Republican Assemblyman David Hadley announced plans Wednesday to run for governor of California, joining a growing field of candidates vying for the seat in 2018.
The 52-year-old businessman from Manhattan Beach hopes to appeal to moderate voters dissatisfied with the Democratic-led state Legislature's passage of gas tax and vehicle license fee increases, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"We are at a point where our politics are so polarized," Hadley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "People are so divided and the majority party has gotten so extreme in this state."
Hadley is adding his name to a growing list of candidates seeking to replace Gov. Jerry Brown, who will not seek re-election due to term limits. Other Republican contenders include venture capitalist John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen, while on the Democratic side Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and Delaine Eastin, a former state superintendent of public instruction, are running.
Voters in California's primary election choose the top two candidates to advance to the general election, regardless of political party. Forty-five percent of the state's voters are registered as Democrats while just 26 percent are registered Republicans.
Hadley believes his track record of working with Democrats in his coastal Los Angeles County district will help him make his case to a wide range of voters. He said he's concerned about the state's high housing costs, public schools and heavy tax burden but believes California has tremendous potential, noting the many talented people who work in medicine, technology and other industries.
Hadley ran for Assembly and won in 2014, but lost his re-election bid last year amid energized Democratic turnout for the presidential election. He did not back Donald Trump for president, voting instead for Libertarian Gary Johnson.
"Speaking as an American, I thought we could do a heck of a lot better than the options the two major parties gave us in 2016," he said, but added that Trump is not responsible for California's weak public school performance or poverty rate.
Hadley is married with four children. Originally from the Orange County city of Fullerton, Hadley started a corporate finance advisory firm nearly two decades ago, but the self-described pro-growth fiscal conservative said he has spent the last three years focused on public service.
"What we all owe the next generation is a future as good or better than the future we have, and California is not on that path," he said.