| After Gavin Newsom dropped out of the governor's race, and California Democrats saw the need for a contested primary, many eyes turned to Jackie Speier as a possible candidate. A well-regarded legislator with a lot of progressive accomplishments, who very narrowly lost the 2006 Lt-Gov primary to John Garamendi, she would seem to be an excellent candidate to give Jerry Brown a real contest and strengthen the party ahead of a bruising general election battle against Meg Whitman.
Aided by reports Speier was unhappy being just one of 435 in a Congress that cannot act thanks to the total incompetence of the Senate, Speier has been getting a lot of pressure from folks to consider running for governor. But as Matier and Ross report, she may instead come back to California to join the crowded Attorney General field:
Speier's interest in returning to Sacramento, where she spent nearly 20 years in the Legislature, was sparked by a statewide poll that showed her outpacing the other Democratic candidates for AG by better than 4 to 1.
The poll of 450 likely Democratic and independent voters, taken by J. Moore Methods this month, showed Speier running first with 23 percent, followed by San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris at 5 percent, state Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance (Los Angeles County) at 4 percent and ex-Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo at 3 percent. A smattering of other candidates pulled lesser numbers.
The biggest bloc of voters, however, was "undecided," at 62 percent.
Those numbers don't really surprise me. Speier is a fairly well-known figure statewide from her 2006 run, whereas Kamala Harris still hasn't established herself as a statewide figure.
And there's some logic in Speier running for AG - if she wants to run for governor someday, it's probably a better launching pad than LtGov, where Janice Hahn seems likely to be the Dem nominee anyway.
But it's a shame that Speier isn't considering the governor's race. From what I understand, she is scared off by Brown's success at raising money, and Whitman's own bottomless warchest. I can also see why chasing after Brown, who already has a lead, seems less exciting than jumping into an AG race where you can start with good poll numbers.
Still, from the perspective of a progressive California Democrat, it's hard to see this as a positive development. The AG field is crowded enough, so to see one of our potentially best statewide candidates jump into that race while leaving Jerry Brown unchallenged as he sleepwalks his way into the general election is not exactly a welcome outcome.
The real shame is that Congress is becoming a place that turns good people off. Speier would be an ideal primary challenger to Dianne Feinstein in 2012. And Speier is an excellent argument against state legislature term limits, along with people like John Laird.
So we will see what happens. If Speier does jump in, I have to believe some of the other folks running for that office will drop out. We'll definitely keep you updated on how this turns out.