Assemblyman Pedro Nava, getting ready to face only token opposition for election to what would be his final term, appears to be thinking ahead to 2010.
Judging from many of the bills he is carrying this year, the Santa Barbara Democrat whose district includes Ventura and much of Oxnard may have his eye on a statewide race for attorney general.
Nava has earned a reputation in the Legislature as a hard worker who focuses on nuts-and-bolts issues such as disaster preparedness and transportation funding. He also, true to his Santa Barbara constituency, has been active in the environmental arena and earned national acclaim last year for authoring a landmark bill to protect the California condor by banning the use of lead ammunition within the condors' range.
This year, Nava has broadened his scope by submitting legislation dealing with juvenile crime, sexually violent predators and internet violence protection.
Nava, as a former prosecutor in Fresno County, has a good resume for a run for attorney general. He also has a favorable political profile for a statewide candidate, having been reared in the Inland Empire, worked and lived in the Central Valley, and established a poltical base along the Central Coast.
The position is likely to become open because incumbent Jerry Brown is widely expected to make a run for governor, his former job, in 2010. No other Democratic legislator has publicly expressed an interest in the post, and the two most likely other candidates -- Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris -- have some liabilities. In addition, Harris, as a prominent supporter of Barack Obama, could be in line for a federal political post in 2009 if Obama makes it to the White House.
One thing to watch for: How much money will Nava raise and spend in his Assembly re-election campaign? He could reserve most of his money this year and also take in contributions that would apply to his 2008 contribution limits. The surplus could be transferred to a 2010 committee, and contributors who maxed out to his Assembly campaign could chip in again for the attorney general race.
If he were to enter the race, Nava would continue a growing tradition of Ventura-Santa Babara legislators to run for statewide office: Cathie Wright and Tom McClintock in 1994; Brooks Firestone in 1998 (he abandoned his campaign for lieutenant governor and decided instead to run for Congress); McClintock and Jack O'Connell in 2002; McClintock again in 2003; and O'Connell, Tony Strickland, Keith Richman and McClintock again in 2006.
Of that group, only O'Connell, now in the middle of his second term as state superintendent of public instruction, has been successful.