Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, is running for the newly created 5th State Senate District seat, which includes the entire Lodi and Galt areas.
Berryhill, who is in his second term as 26th District assemblyman, currently represents such areas as Victor, Lockeford, Clements, eastern Acampo and Morada.
Berryhill's announcement sets up a battle in 2012 against Democrat Cathleen Galgiani of Livingston, serving her third and final term as 17th District assemblywoman. Galgiani has already announced her candidacy for the 5th Senate District seat. Due to the new open primary system, Galgiani and Berryhill will be on all primary ballots next year.
"The 5th Senate seat is attractive to me because I will continue to represent San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties," Bill Berryhill said in a news release.
"This is a very big contest; it's very winnable," he said in a phone interview with the News-Sentinel on Thursday.
Berryhill sees two major reasons to run for the Senate rather than a third and final term in the Assembly. One is that he would like more time to work on preserving the Delta and educate Southern California legislators about the "beauty and value of the Delta."
As a state senator, Berryhill said he'd have more time to devote to Delta issues because he would have a four-year term and not have to run for re-election in 2014.
The other reason Berryhill believes he should be elected is to try to prevent the Democrats from gaining a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, which means it can increase taxes without negotiating with Republicans.
"That should scare everybody," he said. "It should even scare Democrats for one party to have full power."
Berryhill has farmed winegrapes for more than 30 years in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, including a 350-acre ranch off Mackville Road in Clements, where he grows winegrapes and walnuts.
Berryhill's Ceres home will be outside of the new 5th District, but he's looking to build a house on his Clements ranch and to commute from there to Sacramento.
He serves on the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Agriculture Committee and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
Berryhill's brother, Tom, was rumored to be seeking the 5th Senate seat, but brother Bill opted for that seat.While not speaking for his brother, Bill Berryhill said his brother has three years remaining on his current 14th Senate District seat, which includes the Lodi area.
However, the 14th District, under the new lines to take effect after the 2012 election, is moving south from San Joaquin County. The new 14th will include some of the Foothills, plus parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.