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Strickland Speaks

I finally caught up with newly-elected state Senator Tony Strickland, who was sworn in a week ago with 24 other members of the Legislature's Class of 2008.

In a cell phone conversation from Sacramento, he told me that he's seeking authority from Capitol mucky-mucks to open a district office in Santa Barbara, in addition to the one that outgoing senator (and incoming Fourth District of California congressman) Tom McClintock had in Ventura County.

For most of McClintock's tenure, the local senate district included substantially less of Santa Barbara, and for reasons both fiscal and political (Senator Pinch Penny was never going to get many votes out of S.B. and didn't need them anyway) anyone who wanted personal attention from his district staff had to trek to Thousand Oaks.

Now Strickland, who represents all of Santa Barbara up through Lompoc, is looking to make it more convenient for local constituents; having won election by just 857 votes, he's mindful of the political need to beef up support here. "We're working with the Rules Committee to get two offices, and I'm hopeful they'll go along with it," he said.

Strickland's wife, Audra, represents his old Assembly district in the Legislature, and the couple is looking for a place in Sacramento for them and their two little kids to stay during the week; they plan to keep their place in Moorpark, and to commute down on weekends.

Coughing and wheezing something god-awful, Strickland had just returned from a trip to the doctor, where he was treated for what your medical types like to call your upper respiratory inflammation. Apparently he's one of those people who don't get sick during extended stressful situations, in favor of saving it all up for after: "This happens to me at the end of every campaign," he said.

Go to bed, man, you've earned it.

Update: Amid the state's economic meltdown, Strickland has won a seat on a key budget subcommittee that should put him in the middle of the fiscal action. Late Monday, his office announced that he has been appointed to the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Revenues and the Economy. Strickland campaigned on a platform of revitalizing California's economy through government incentives to boost green energy projects and enterprises; this gives him a platform to put up or shut up.

Must read: Check out this terrific before-and-after, by-the-numbers analysis of the impact of W's two terms, from Pro-Publica.

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