Race for state Senate locked and loaded

Police Commissioner Joe Alioto-Veronese, considered a long shot in the race for a state Senate seat, announced Friday that he will not include his name on the June ballot.

There are now four people running for the District 3 seat, currently held by Democrat Carole Migden, which represents Marin, Sonoma and part of San Francisco.

“Over the last several months I have met with the hard-working people from every corner of this district and have been humbled by all the support I have received,” Alioto-Veronese said in a press release. “Yet, after much deliberation with my wife and key supporters I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the State Senate.”

Migden, who has held the seat since 2004, faces stiff competition from two challengers with California Assembly experience — Assemblymember Mark Leno and former Assemblymember Joe Nation. Alioto-Veronese was considered a long shot, according to political observers.

Republican Sashi McEntee, a 34-year-old business consultant from Mill Valley, also entered the race at the last minute, filing paperwork Friday. McEntee is the sole Republican in the race.

Leno, D-San Francisco, was the first to enter the race, announcing his candidacy a year ago. Nation jumped into the contest in early February.

Friday was the deadline for candidates for the state Senate seat to turn in qualifying signatures or filing fees.

Observers say Nation, who most recently ran for Congress in 2006 against U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, brings name recognition in Marin County and siphons votes from Migden.

David Latterman, a local political analyst, said two recent polls have Migden trailing Leno and Nation. “The folks in Marin and Sonoma [counties] are looking for someone else,” he said.

Democrats make up 54 percent of the electorate in the district with the second-largest constituency being “decline-to-state” voters, who cannot vote in the Republican primary but can vote in the Democratic primary. Voters registered as “decline-to-state” make up 24 percent of voters in the district but must ask for a Democratic ballot if they wish to vote for a Democratic candidate during the primary.

With Migden and Leno competing for votes in San Francisco and Nation attracting votes in Marin County, the nearly 41,797 Democratic voters in Sonoma County could hold tremendous sway come June 3, according to politics professor David McCuan of Sonoma State University.

“All three [Democratic] candidates have rediscovered Sonoma,” said McCuan, who estimated it would take 25 percent to 35 percent of the vote to win the nod in June.

The candidates are scheduled to debate March 18 at UC Hastings College of the Law.

dsmith@examiner.com

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