California Republican plans new think tank
Sen. Sam Blakeslee, one of the only Republican senators willing to try negotiating a budget deal with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown last year, plans to start a new think tank after leaving the Legislature next year.
The organization, called the California Reform Institute, will be funded with $750,000 from Charles Munger Jr., a prominent Republican donor. The announcement is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
The institute will join a constellation of think tanks and nonprofits pushing their agenda in Sacramento. But Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, said his organization would differentiate itself by devising realistic, moderate proposals that can be enacted by lawmakers rather than pushed through a costly ballot initiative campaign.
He said he's been frustrated by political orthodoxy and short-sighted thinking in the Capitol.
“What’s missing?" he said. "There’s no infrastructure for policy ideas in the center."
Munger, in a statement, said the institute can play an important role despite cynicism over the much-maligned California Legislature.
"I have worked with Sam for many years on a variety of reform projects and have been impressed with his unusual combination of political and policy insights," Munger said. "He is just the kind of leader who can apply common sense principles to forge innovative solutions.”
Blakeslee is leaving the Legislature after six years as an assemblyman and two as a senator. He decided not to run again after redistricting changed his district from, in his words, “robins egg blue” to “midnight blue,” making reelection as a Republican an uphill proposition.
"I have no plans for elected office," he said. "I hope my plans assist with others that do."
Photo: Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) during a Capitol hearing last year. Credit: Associated Press
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento