There was a story on Friday where Senator Barbara Boxer denied that she'd decided to retire. I was perplexed what she was denying, since that was the first I heard of it. The next day a story came out that she was going to retire. It's weird when the story denying the retirement is out before the story that she is. Is she or isn't she?
I have no idea. But what if she does retire. If she did, who would run? There are three heavyweights who hold statewide office that are all mentioned for governor in 2018, but no one talks about the senate. They are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Controller John Chiang, and Attorney General Kamala Harris. Business executives Tom Steyer and Sheryl Sandberg have been mentioned. Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be mentioned in any discussion of statewide candidates.
It's long been understood that anyone who wants to win statewide better raise a lot of money or already have a statewide profile. This was confirmed in June in the Controller race. Assembly Speaker John Perez spent about $2 million, while Democratic rival Betty Yee probably spent 15-20% of that. Perez still lost to her, because his spending wasn't significant enough to overcome whatever strengths she had. Republican Ashley Swearengin was endorsed by many Republican groups and spent a few hundred thousand dollars. Republican rival David Evans had no endorsements and spent nothing. Yet he nearly matched her vote total because all that people knew about the candidates were their ballot designation. Evens had a good one.
No sitting Democratic congressman in a safe district has run for statewide office since 1992. This is likely because they know that they'd be in for a tough race to win statewide office and probably won't be able to raise their profile enough to break through. So why give up a safe seat for a chancy election? So I wouldn't expect any congressman in a safe seat to run. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz are two young congressmen who are in swing districts and are prolific fundraisers. It's probably worth trading a seat you have to fight for every two years for a chance at a seat that you'll easily hold if you're able to win this one election.
A Republican wouldn't win a one on one match-up with a Democrat but we could see two Republicans make Top Two if enough strong Democrats were to run. But that's not worth discussing until we see who will be running.