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Race Track

We thought the race to replace Congressman Sam Farr in the 20th District was going to be the showdown to watch in the local 2016 election cycle—but, boy, were we wrong. Sure, there’s Jimmy Panetta, the democratic son of political heavyweight Leon Panetta, and Casey Lucius, the sharp Pacific Grove Republican city councilmember.

On top of that was a long list of other possible candidates, including California state Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), one of the state’s most successful lawmakers in recent years, who championed reforms to raise the minimum wage and get driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Then there was California state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel). Usually, the most likely candidate in a race like this would be the local state senator, but Monning has decided instead to sit this one out and run for re-election in his state seat.

Alejo showed interest in running early and is getting termed out of the assembly. But he soon quieted down, later announcing that he would run for Monterey County supervisor instead. That could keep Alejo in the public eye if the ambitious lawmaker decides to run for Monning’s open senate seat when Monning gets termed out in 2020—which would look to be the obvious next step for the ambitious young lawmaker.

Meanwhile, Karina Cervantez Alejo, Luis Alejo’s wife, looked poised to cruise from her post on the Watsonville City Council into her husband’s assembly seat in next year’s election.

That is, until Anna Caballero, formerly a member of Gov. Jerry Brown’s cabinet and mayor of Salinas, announced her candidacy for that same seat, a post she held for four years herself before Brown called her name in 2010.

Caballero is a formidable foe. And yes, Monterey Bay’s hottest power couple noticed. Luis Alejo was quick to point out last month that under the old term-limit rules, Caballero would only be able to serve one two-year term, whereas Alejo’s wife could serve 12 years. “This is once again Anna only thinking about Anna, instead of thinking about my constituents or the next generation of smart, hardworking women leaders,” Luis Alejo told the Monterey Herald.

When it comes to politics, it’s never too early to think ahead, so it’s worth wondering what Caballero would do after getting termed out in a couple of years. Run for Monning’s senate seat perhaps, maybe against Luis?

Yes, it’s a few years away, but it’s hard to imagine either one of them eyeing anything else, and that could get interesting—and raise the stakes in 2016, as well.

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