Leno to challenge Migden for Senate 

Setting up a showdown that political pundits say will split San Francisco’s gay voters and liberal political circles, Assemblyman Mark Leno confirmed Friday that he will challenge state Sen. Carole Migden for her job next year.

Both politicians have previously served on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Both are Democrats; both are openly gay.

Migden is up for re-election in 2008, the same year that Leno is termed out of his office.

Leno told The Examiner that he spoke to Migden personally about running for her 3rd District Senate seat.

"She said she didn’t know why there’d be a need for a challenge," said Leno, who will officially announce his candidacy March 2, at a lunchtime rally at Yerba Buena Gardens.

Talk about Leno entering the race began several months ago, when word got out that he was conducting polls in the district, which comprises the eastern half of San Francisco, all of Marin County, and portions of Sonoma County.

Migden, speaking through her spokeswoman, Tracy Fairchild, said she was "proud of my effectiveness in the job my district elected me to do — and terribly sorry that the gentleman doesn’t have his own job."

Political analyst David Latterman said he expected the race to become a battle of personalities that would split political "clubs, endorsements and cliques."

"Everybody’s talking about the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] bloodbath that’s going to happen," said Latterman, who added that members of the Board of Supervisors who are usually allied are also split in their allegiances to the two politicians.

A similarshowdown happened in 2002, when Migden termed out of her state Assembly seat in 2002 and Leno went after the job.

Migden endorsed another former city supervisor, Harry Britt, who also is gay, but Leno won the race.

"There’s been some thawing in the gay community in the last couple of years, after that," said a member of San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, who did not wish to be named. "But this obviously creates more contention."

Leno said he was confident his record as a legislator and a community advocate would win over voters next year.

"With the district aspect of the job, I’ve demonstrated my interest in being in the community — working shoulder to shoulder with constituents," Leno said.

Leno might enjoy strong support in San Francisco, but Migden has an advantage in Marin County, Latterman said.

beslinger@examiner.com

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Bonnie Eslinger

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