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August 19, 2013
Insider Extra: Who's running for statewide office?

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Ignore the fact that we're still closer to the 2012 election than to the 2014 primaries -- in the era of perpetual campaigns, it's never too early to survey the field.

The list that follows is an early snapshot, with the deadline to declare candidacies for statewide office still months away. But we already have a fairly representative list of the established candidates (for the purposes of brevity, we're pruning the fairly extensive list of office-seekers who have filed statements of intention to run).

Attorney General

This is the easiest one, because incumbent AG Kamala Harris is so far the only candidate to declare for 2014. An ascendant figure in the California Democratic party, Harris seems like a pretty safe bet to secure a second term. Former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, who has already lost to Harris once, has said he is keeping his options open for a 2014 run -- in the meantime, he is working as an advocate for cracking down on sex offenders who target children.

Governor

The consensus is that Gov. Jerry Brown will cruise to re-election, barring a significant scandal or an economic collapse. But he already has some potential Republican rivals.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, has been coy about his gubernatorial intentions but has managed to get some publicity from flirting with the idea. But the smart money right now is on former lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado, who has already established the tenor and focus of his likely campaign by hammering Brown over the public safety repercussions of prison realignment. Well, smart money may be a poor choice of words: in the first half of 2013, Maldonado's financial position was far more tenuous than Brown's.

Lurking as a wildcard is Republican executive and former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, who is also seen as a potential candidate for statewide office, thought he hasn't formally declared anything.

Lieutenant Governor

As with Harris and Brown, the odds-on favorite here is the incumbent, in this case the ever-photogenic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Termed-out (but young and ambitious) Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, has filed a statement of intention to run but had a piddling $747 on hand as of the end of June.

Secretary of State

Now it starts to get interesting. Current Secretary of State Debra Bowen is gone after this term, and the field to replace her has been coalescing. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, formally announced his campaign on the eve of the California Democratic Party convention and proceeded to use the convention to spread the word. Padilla was welcomed to the race by rival Democratic senator Leland Yee of San Francisco, who has been been bolstering his secretary of state credentials by touting his work to expand online voter registration.

On the Republican side is Pete Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, who formally announced in late April.

Derek Cressman, who spent years probing the commingling of money and politics at the advocacy group Common Cause, declared his candidacy in June with a pledge to check the political clout of wealthy interests.

Treasurer

Controller John Chiang is angling to trade his current position, where he's serving his second and last term, for the California State Treasurer's office. Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez has had an active treasurer fundraising committee for some time now, but looks unlikely to want to give up his powerful perch at Mercury Public Affairs -- his campaign committee recorded no contributions received for the first half of 2013, but doled out $177,000.

Controller

This originally looked like a case of Term Limits Tango, with termed-out Treasurer Bill Lockyer aiming to swap positions with John Chiang (see above) and keep alive a long career in elected office. But Lockyer upended the race when he made a surprise announcement in June that he would exit public service at the end of his current term.

That clears the way for Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. She has an active 2014 controller account, pulling in more than $330,000 through the first part of 2013. Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, has a Calderon for Controller campaign committee that accumulated more than $60,000 in the first half of 2013 -- a stretch of months that also saw FBI agents raid Calderon's legislative offices, baggage he would have to lug through a campaign.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

So far, the only potential challenger to incumbent Tom Torlakson is Republican Lydia Gutierrez, who unsuccessfully took on Torlakson in 2010 and won a 2008 state senate primary before falling in the general.

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