With just five months until the June primary, legislative contests around California are starting to heat up.
While candidates can't begin the formal process of filing for office until Friday, when candidate papers can first be pulled, many legislative hopefuls have already spent months raising cash, securing endorsements and plotting their path to potential victory.
The decennial redistricting process and first election under the state's new top-two primary system has produced a new list of competitive state legislative districts that are being closely watched by political junkies on both sides of the aisle. The stakes are high, especially in the Senate, where Democrats see an opportunity to reach a coveted two-thirds majority.
Capitol Alert has compiled a roundup of battles we're keeping tabs on in the early stages of the primary campaign. Because the candidate papers have yet to be filed, we've listed only the declared or expected entrants on our radar so far.
You can send your suggestions for contests or candidates we might have missed, or predictions about the outcome of these races, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read installment two -- on Senate District 9 and Assembly District 39 -- after the jump. You'll find previous installments at this link.
Senate District 9
Who we're watching: Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda.
Why we're watching: Voters in this East Bay Senate district will have a front-row seat to a same-party brawl this spring. Swanson, who is termed out of the Assembly, has decided to challenge incumbent Hancock for this heavily Democratic district. With two candidates with labor backing on the ballot, insiders are expecting no shortage of cash to be pumped into this race. The political make-up of the new district could result in two rounds of balloting between the two liberal Democrats -- under the new top-two primary system, both could advance to a general election runoff if they claim the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in June.
Assembly District 39
Who we're watching: Democratic legislative aide Raul Bocanegra and Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon
Why we're watching: Bocanegra wants to succeed his current boss, Democratic Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, in the newly drawn version of this safe Democratic San Fernando Valley seat. But it looks like he has some competition from Alarcon. Alarcon, a former state senator, has already won election to the lower house once but gave up his Sacramento gig after just a few months for an open seat on the city council. Alarcon's been busy fundraising for this race for nearly a year, but he'll also have to answer questions about an 18-count indictment stemming from charges that he lives outside his council district. (He's pleaded not guilty.) Bocanegra has in his corner the backing of no fewer than 15 current legislators plus strong fundraising numbers.