It’s Official: Leno will challenge Migden

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, will officially announce his campaign for the 2008 primary against Senator Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, with a pair of press conferences on Friday, March 2.

The announcement comes after several weeks of speculation over the intra-party fight between two of the states most prominent gay politicians. In recent weeks, Leno has been speaking regularly with political officials in the Sonoma and Marin parts of the district. With Leno and Migden both hailing from San Francisco, it was widely speculated that a third candidate from the North Bay region might enter the race, possibly termed-out Assemblyman Joe Nation.

Leno will also release the numbers from a David Binder poll he commission in December. He called the results of that poll, which looked his potential in a race against Migden, “better than I could have imagined.”

“The next step was to contact dozens of elected and community officials in Marin and Sonoma,” Leno said. “Almost universally, the response was ‘We would like to have a choice in the matter.'”

The events will kick off with a morning press conference in the North Bay, most likely at Hauke Park in Mill Valley. This will be followed by a noon press at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens, where Leno said he hopes to have hundreds of supporter on hand. This will be followed by a walk through Chinatown with local officials, and a third press conference for the Chinese language press.

Migden was elected in 2004 and would not term out of her seat until 2012. Leno is scheduled to term out of his Assembly seat in 2008, and was widely expected to bide his time and run for the District 3 Senate seat when Migden left.

However, Migden has suffered numerous political setbacks in recent months. She resigned from her spot as chairwoman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee in November 2005, a move that was widely believed to have come under pressure from Senate Democratic leadership.

Locking up the North Bay vote is a key move for Leno, because Migden’s is viewed as less popular there. Shortly before her election in November, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle political columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross wrote a piece called “Migden burns, pillages her way through Marin County.” It detailed a disastrous election debate appearance in San Rafael in which she reportedly shocked her audience by showing up late and acting dismissively towards her opponents.

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