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Termed out of their California legislative posts in two years, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are finding themselves on a collision course for higher office.

Pérez opened a campaign committee last Friday to raise funds for a possible bid for lieutenant governor in 2018, creating the specter of a same-party fight with Steinberg, who opened a similar committee early last year.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be termed out in 2018, creating a vacancy for a position likely to be filled by a Democrat because of the party's dominance in voter registration statewide.

Doug Herman, Pérez's political strategist, said the Los Angeles lawmaker is considering the lieutenant governor post among his "serious options" for continuing public service after leaving the Assembly.

But creation of an exploratory committee does not obligate either Pérez or Steinberg to run for lieutenant governor.

"Six years is a lifetime in politics," Herman said. "I don't expect the two of those guys to run against each other."

Steinberg, a Sacramentan, currently has more than a half-million dollars in his lieutenant governor campaign coffers, while Pérez's newly created committee has not yet reported any donations.

Under California term limits, Steinberg would be ineligible to run for the Legislature after 2014. Pérez is not barred from seeking a state Senate seat and could serve up to eight years there.



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