Speier likely candidate to fill Lantos' seat in House

With Tom Lantos’ House seat available for the first time in nearly three decades, political analysts say that former Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier is the most likely candidate to fill the void.

“From all the polling I’ve ever seen and all the information I’ve been able to gather over the years, Jackie is the most popular elected official in that area and I think she’d be a formidable opponent,” said longtime Peninsula political consultant Ed McGovern.

Speier was reportedly out of the country on a vacation, but issued a statement offering her thoughts and prayers to Lantos and his family. Her finance director, Cristine Krolik, said the former state senator had been exploring a run against Lantos before the Congress member announced his retirement.

“She has an election team in place, so I would assume she would move forward,” Krolik said.

Leland Yee, who was elected to the state Senate in June, is also considered a possible contender for Lantos’ seat. On Wednesday, Yee said that he wanted to speak with Lantos before coming to any decisions.

Mike Nevin, a former San Mateo County supervisor who ran unsuccessfully for Yee’s state Senate seat, said his money is on Speier as well.

Despite who steps into the race, McGovern said Lantos’ departure will be part of a significant change in the Bay Area’s political landscape.

“With his retirement, and with Gene Mullin leaving and the Migden-Leno race in San Francisco, there could be a big sea change in leadership this year,” he said. Mullin, a Democratic state Assembly member from South San Francisco, will be termed out of office.

tbarak@examiner.com

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