Lantos throws support behind Speier 

Lauding her "heart and soul, muscle and grit," Rep. Tom Lantos on Wednesday endorsed former state Sen. Jackie Speier as his successor.

"Jackie Speier has been working on behalf of the people of the Peninsula and San Francisco for decades, and she is our best candidate for the United States Congress," Lantos said in a prepared statement.

A Democrat in his 14th term representing most of San Mateo and part of San Francisco counties, Lantos announced two weeks ago that he would not seek re-election due to cancer of the esophagus. Speier announced her intent to run on Jan. 13.

"With her impressive record of achievement and her unique life experience, Jackie will bring to Washington all the heart and soul, muscle and grit that makes for an effective new member of the House," according to Lantos’ statement.

Speier said she was deeply moved by the endorsement when reached by phone Wednesday.

"I’m just deeply concerned about his health right now," she said. "I thought the last thing that would be on his mind is this campaigning. It was a most generous thing to do considering how all of his mind should be focused on getting better."

Lantos’ spokeswoman Lynne Weil said the congressman is in "very good spirits" and working from his apartment close to the Capitol.

"He is still consulting with doctors and weighing treatment options," she said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a 57-year-old San Mateo resident who ran against Lantos in 2006 has declared his candidacy.

Robert Barrows, who owns a Burlingame public relations firm and invented the "Video Enhanced Gravemarker," in which the deceased can offer final thoughts through their tombstones, says he is running on an anti-war, anti-outsourcing platform.

"I’m in it, and I’m in it to win," Barrows said. "Jackie is a formidable opponent, but she may be yesterday’s news."

Speier said she was aware of Barrows’ candidacy.

"Godspeed," she said.

San Mateo resident Yul Kwon, a former staffer for Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn, who won the million dollar prize on "Survivor" in 2006, is also considering a congressional bid.

tbarak@examiner.com  

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