I love the NFL because on any given Sunday any team can beat any other team. With a good draft, a couple of free agent pick-ups and avoiding injuries your team can go from worst to first in one year. Numerous wild card teams have won the Super Bowl. The NFL is the highest rated sport on TV and a typical Sunday game will have 75,000 spectators packed into the stadium. It’s modern day gladiators with the biggest, fastest, and strongest athletes going mano-a-mano every week.

Which is why I hate state politics.

State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro is terming out of his California 2nd District Assembly seat and just this past week our State Senator Noreen Evans announced she will not run for reelection for her California 2nd District State Senate seat, which would have been a foregone conclusion.

So instead of having the two (or more) candidates going on the campaign trail and “may the best candidate win”, we have the state party bosses handicapping our state races before they’ve even begun.

To run for state office one has to have some sort of name recognition, make the rounds to the Sacramento bosses to “kiss the rings”, reach out to the unions and corporate lobbyists, announce early and then a year in advance you have a campaign war chest flush with cash, endorsements from our local Congressman, the current and former State Senators and Assemblypersons, most of the regional County Board of Supervisors, Mayors and City Councilmembers, major unions and presto – you are anointed to your office.

The political race is over before the voters have a chance to do their thing… you know, vote.

So far there are three candidates that have announced to run for Wes Chesbro’s open 2nd District Assembly seat: Jim Woods (D) Healdsburg City Councilman, John Lowry (D) former Executive Director of the Burbank Housing and Hezekiah Allen (D), an environmentalist.

Woods already has a war chest of $200,000, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict he will get the endorsements of our current and former Congressmen (Thompson and Huffman), the current and former State Senators and Assemblypersons, the majority of the Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity County Board of Supervisors, Mayors and City Councilmembers.

If you were a betting person, which candidate would you say is the front runner?

Over on the State Senate race, Chris Lehman (D), 36 of Arcata has just announced his intention to run for Evans’ soon to be vacant seat. Lehman, a U.C. Davis grad, was a former staff member for State Senator Darrell Steinberg. Although Lehman has never run for political office before, he knows his way around Sacramento having worked there as a political consultant for the past 14 years.

That ends the rumors on local potential candidates, such as former State Assemblymember Patty Berg and Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace, both who have endorsed Lehman.

Other potential candidates are Michael Allen (D), former State Assemblymember and former General Manager of Service Employees International Union, who lost his last 10th District Assembly race in 2012 despite having nearly all the Northern California Democratic endorsements and having outspent his opponent Marc Levine (D) by 5-1.

Efren Carrillo (D), Sonoma County Supervisor was thought to be a front-runner for State Senate if Noreen Evans didn’t run. Unfortunately Carrillo was arrested last month wearing only his underwear, socks and cell phone trying to break into a woman’s window at 3:30 in the morning while intoxicated.

That leaves two other potential candidates who have the demographics in their favor. Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams (D) and San Rafael City Councilman Damon Connolly (D) are both well respected in Marin County. If I were advising either of them, I’d recommend they get in the game as soon as possible. They both have green credentials from the Marin Energy Authority and either could draw heavily from Marin and Sonoma counties (the majority of the voter base of the 2nd State Senate District).

I may be naïve, but I hope the voters get to decide our next state elected officials and not the Sacramento party bosses, unions and corporations. Lest we forget, money and endorsements don’t win elections (although they certainly help), voters do.