California: Yee Says Nay to Primary for Lantos’ House Seat

Posted January 15, 2008 at 5:00pm

State Sen. Leland Yee has decided to take a pass, leaving former state Sen. Jackie Speier as the lone Democrat for now in the race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Lantos (D) in the San Francisco-area 12th district.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from the people of San Francisco and San Mateo County who have encouraged me to run for Congress. However, at this time, my family and I have decided it is best to continue the work started in the state Senate,” Yee said this week in a statement.

The 12th district is solid Democratic territory and the winner of the June 3 primary is assured of victory in November, and Yee’s decision to opt out could leave Speier with an unobstructed path to her party’s nomination.

Speier, who finished a close second in the 2006 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, was endorsed Monday by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“She is far and away the most qualified and experienced candidate for Congress not only in the Bay area or our state, but possibly in the nation,” Newsom said. “I have no doubt she will be an effective leader for San Francisco, the Bay area and our country.”

Speier began her political career as an aide for the former Rep. Leo Ryan (D), who was gunned down by supporters of the Rev. Jim Jones while in Guyana in 1978 to observe Jones’ compound, known as “Jonestown.”

Speier, who was on that trip with Ryan, also suffered gunshot wounds, although she survived the shooting. Speier was preparing to challenge Lantos in the 12th district Democratic primary before he announced earlier this month that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was retiring.
— David M. Drucker