"The great thing about running in a crowded race," Assemblyman Pedro Nava told me last week, "is that you can get 25 percent and win."
Theoretically, of course. The theory seldom is validated in practice, however. Typically, one candidate emerges from the pack and most of the rest become single-digit also-rans.
Nava is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general next year in a field that at the moment includes includes six contenders: Nava, fellow Assembly members Ted Lieu and Alberto Torrico, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Chris Kelly, a former policy adviser in the Clinton White House who later served as chief privacy officer for Facebook.
The charismatic Harris, who co-chaired President Barack Obama's California campaign, is the favorite. Kelly is the wild card.
From Nava's perspective, the better Kelly performs the better. If the political newcomer has a chance to tap into any segment of the Democratic primary electorate, it is the netroots progessives who might otherwise be attracted to Harris, if for no other reason than her Obama connections.
Late last week, Kelly sent a signal that he may become an intriguing wild card. He announced the hiring of veteran Democratic strategist Katie Merrill as his campaign director. Merrill has worked on a number of high-profile campaigns, and her hiring signals that Kelly hopes to wage a serious campaign.
If nothing else, it makes the 25 percent scenario a stronger possibility.