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California: Ex-Talk-Show Host Eyes Boxer Challenge

Former radio talk-show host Larry Elder (R) is considering running for Senate in 2010 against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) but is holding his fire while top GOP officials wait for favored candidate Carly Fiorina (R) to make a final decision on whether she’ll run, Republican sources confirmed Monday.

Elder was in Washington, D.C., recently for meetings as part of his research while he weighs making the jump from media professional to politician. One Republican source said Elder is considered a strong second choice to challenge Boxer if Fiorina — the former Hewlett-Packard CEO — declines to take on the uphill task.

“The conventional wisdom is to let her decide, with Larry as a strong second choice,— one GOP source said.

Elder spent 15 years broadcasting on KABC talk radio in Los Angeles, with that run coming to an end late last year. He is an attorney by trade who left a career running a legal head-hunting firm he founded in Cleveland to take to the airwaves in Southern California, where he grew up. Elder also hosted a short-lived nationally syndicated television show at one point.

Fiorina, a very public supporter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race, is the top choice of some top Republicans — both in California and Washington — to take on Boxer. She ranks high for several reasons: She is a woman, has a business background and has the deep pockets necessary to seed what would be a very expensive race.

Boxer closed the first quarter with $4.6 million in cash on hand and has the advantage of running in a strongly Democratic state. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R) has already announced his Senate candidacy, but is given long odds by most Republican strategists familiar with California politics.

“I think there are quite a few people who hope Fiorina will jump in,— one California-based GOP strategist said.

Garamendi Poised to Join 10th District Race

The Contra Costa County Central Labor Council on Sunday evening unanimously endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D) in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election in the 10th district.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) will give up the seat later this year if she is confirmed, as expected, for a top post at the State Department.

The labor group’s endorsement of DeSaulnier comes as Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D), who had been gearing up to run for governor next year, appears more likely to try for Tauscher’s East Bay seat. Garamendi, who is running fourth in most polls on the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, spoke almost exclusively about federal issues during an appearance before the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee late last week, according to media accounts.

But DeSaulnier has moved quickly to lock up key endorsements, including those of Tauscher and Rep. George Miller (D), who represents an adjoining district.

“Mark understands the needs of workers in this district and has always fought to maintain the wages and working conditions of the moms and dads trying to keep the mortgage current and food on the table,— said Pam Aguilar, executive director of the Central Labor Council. “He knows that stronger workers in Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano mean stronger communities and a better economy for all Americans. We are confident that he will put those values to work in Washington.—

Several Democrats and Republicans are taking a look at running in the all-party primary to succeed Tauscher, even though no date will be set until her seat is vacant. Besides Garamendi, who also served as California insurance commissioner, state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D) is also a top potential contender.

State Party Backs Chu in Solis Special Election

In a move that could prove critical in the May 19 special House primary in the Golden State’s 32nd district, the California Democratic Party on Saturday unanimously endorsed state Board of Equalization Vice Chairwoman Judy Chu (D).

Depending on what party leaders decide to do, the endorsement could result in significant resources and boots on the ground for Chu in what appears to be a two-way battle between her and state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D). At the very least, the endorsement is a message to party activists that could prove critical in a special election where turnout is expected to be low.

“I feel so honored by the incredible support we had today,— Chu said in a statement after the votes were tallied. “It shows that the Democrats of this district, which I have represented at the local and state level for the past 23 years and which I call my home, have come to trust me as one of their own and as a champion of the issues that are important to them.—

Twelve candidates will appear on the all-party primary ballot in the race to replace former Rep. Hilda Solis (D), who is now secretary of Labor. The 32nd district, in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, is more than 50 percent Latino, which gives Cedillo an advantage on paper. But Chu has significant Hispanic support in the district as well as the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

She had $578,000 in her campaign account as of March 31 compared to Cedillo’s $441,000.

If no candidate tops 50 percent of the vote on May 19, the top vote-getters from each party advance to a special runoff on July 14. Democrats are heavily favored to hold Solis’ seat.

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