Stoker was flanked on either side on the steps of the courthouse by his wife Debbie and co-chair of his campaign Brooks Firestone. | Credit: Ryan P. Cruz

Former Santa Barbara County supervisor Mike Stoker, who was more recently removed as former president Donald Trump’s West Coast Regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, has thrown his hat in the ring as Gregg Hart’s Republican opponent in the race for the 37th District State Assembly seat.

Stoker’s official announcement came via a pair of events Friday, first in the morning at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens to a handful of supporters and then later in the afternoon at the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria. 

During his time at the EPA, Stoker drew complaints filed with the agency’s inspector general due to a majority of his time being spent traveling away from the region’s main offices in San Francisco. When he was fired from the position in 2020, Stoker filed a lawsuit against the former head of the EPA, “claiming defamation of character.” 

Seeing a chance to run for State Assembly in 2022 and encouraged by his wife, Debbie Stoker, to pursue a campaign, Stoker said he decided that he would run if polling came in favorably and proved that a Republican could have a chance against 2nd District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart, who announced his candidacy in January.

“The poll results came in, and the polls have us beating Gregg Hart,” Stoker said. “The poll results on the issues — Gregg Hart is on the wrong side of the issues by 10 to 20 percent of the voters in this district.”

When asked about specifics regarding the polls, Stoker told The Independent he “doesn’t get into the micro-details,” but the polls — which he said were taken among voters in the district — had him favored on all the issues he will be pushing during his campaign.

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Among these issues, Stoker believes in funding police and “free choice over what people do with their bodies” regarding vaccine and mask mandates. Stoker lambasted Hart, who he says led the effort to defund law enforcement.

Stoker was flanked on the steps of the courthouse by his wife and a co-chair of his campaign, Brooks Firestone, whom Stoker described as a “statesman of the Republican Party” in Santa Barbara.

“Brooks was the last Republican to represent Santa Barbara,” Stoker said. “I’m gonna be the next Republican to represent Santa Barbara.”

Firestone represented the 35th District in the California State Assembly from 1994-1998, and served as 3rd District County Supervisor from 2004-2008.

“Our community just got lucky. We found somebody who is totally qualified in every regard,” Firestone said. “I know how great he would be for California, and that’s something we should be proud of.”

Also co-chair of Stoker’s campaign, but absent from the courthouse event, was current 35th District Assemblymember Republican Jordan Cunningham, who defeated the Democratic challenger in his 2020 reelection campaign, Morro Bay City Councilmember Dawn Addis. Stoker hopes to repeat Cunningham’s success among Democrats in North County. 

“That’s why we can win,” Stoker said. “You talk to a lot of the pundits and pollsters — they say this is gonna be the biggest Republican year in their lifetimes.”

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