BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Last week, the Los Angeles Times endorsed Republican Lanhee Chen for state controller — a move that likely surprised some readers.

The L.A. Times endorsed no Republican candidates in 2020 and has not backed a Republican for president since resuming endorsements in 2008. In this year’s down-ballot race for state controller, the Times backed Chen, a professor at Stanford.

The office of controller has the power to audit state agencies, investigating how they’re spending money and determining whether that spending is useful. In their editorial, published last Thursday, the Times argued California’s controller should have as much political independence from the party in power as possible to do their job effectively.

“I was surprised, only because they haven’t endorsed a Republican in some amount of time,” Chen told 17 News. “But I think overall, the editorial board argued, and I argue as well, you need someone whose political interests are different from those who are in charge otherwise.”

Chen likely faces an uphill battle. No Republican has been elected to an executive position in California since 2007. No Republican has served as California’s controller since 1975.

Chen says the Times endorsement is a step on his path, and that he must now focus on being heard by both sides of the voting public.