‘Survivor’ star Kwon decides against congressional bid

It’s official: One of People magazine’s sexiest men of 2006 will not vie for the congressional seat the late Tom Lantos held for nearly three decades.

Yul Kwon, a San Mateo management consultant better known for winning the $1 million prize on “Survivor: Cook Islands” two years ago — an honor garnering him a sexy spread in the celebrity magazine — opted not to file for the San Mateo-San Francisco House ofRepresentatives seat vacated by Lantos, D-San Mateo, who died from cancer in February.

Kwon, a Yale Law School graduate and former legislative aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., considered running in recent months but did not file before Friday’s general election deadline. He said he’s sticking with television and will soon appear in another popular show he wasn’t allowed to name.

“I feel there are other opportunities and ways I can have an impact,” Kwon said. “Media is a very powerful tool for getting people, particularly young people and minorities, engaged in politics.”

It leaves seven candidates, including former Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier, a heavy favorite, vying for the 12th Congressional District, which represents San Mateo County and parts of San Francisco.

A special election for the seat will take place April 8 and the general election June 3. If anyone wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the special election, he or she automatically takes the June general election and will serve the remainder of Lantos’ term, which ends Jan. 3, 2009.

Speier will face two Republicans including Atherton’s Greg Conlon, 74, a former state Public Utilities Commission member, and retired businessman Mike Moloney of Foster City. Maloney may be the best known of the challengers, having lost to Lantos in three previous elections — most recently in 2006.

Two San Franciscans are running in April in their first attempt at public office: Democrat Michelle McMurry, 38, and the Green Party’s Barry Hermanson, 57.

Libertarian Kevin Peterson, a software engineer, is a write-in candidate for the April election and San Mateo Democrat Robert Barrows will only run if the seat is up for grabs in June. Barrows filed after the Feb. 25 deadline, elections officials said.

Speier may be the overwhelming favorite to grab Lantos’ seat, since she has long representedthe region, but her competitors warn against counting them out.

“I’m an Irishman with chutzpah,” said the Republican Conlon. “Look at McCain. He was flat on his back and passed out and he did it. I’m not saying it’s probable, but it’s certainly possible.”

Maloney is even more confident. “I personally think that I have a legitimate chance of winning this thing,” he said after filing last week.

maldax@examiner.com

In other races

A list of candidates that filed for other significant races

U.S Representative in 14th District

» Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto (incumbent, unopposed)

State Assembly 19th District

» Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo (San Mateo County supervisor)

» Richard Holober, D-Millbrae (educator/consumer advocate)

» Gina Papan, D- Millbrae (mayor of Millbrae)

» Brian Perry, L-South San Francisco (Libertarian, freelance editor)

State Assembly 21st District

» Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City, (incumbent, unopposed)

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