By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
State Sen. Noreen Evans is expected to announce next week that she will not seek re-election in 2014 and that she instead will return to practicing law once her current term ends, a Sacramento source said Friday.
“It’s a demanding job. It’s taken its toll,” said the source, who is close to Evans’ campaign for the 2014 seat.
The source said it was never the Santa Rosa Democrat’s intention to be a career politician.
“Her true love has always been advocating for justice and so she’s going to do that in the courtroom,” the source said.
A spokeswoman for Evans said the senator was out ill Friday and unavailable for comment. State lawmakers return to work in Sacramento on Monday.
Word that the 58-year-old senator will voluntarily give up her post next year has already sparked furious speculation as to who who might seek the 2nd District Senate seat, which encompasses a huge swath of the North Coast from Marin to Humboldt County. The district represents more than one million people.
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane on Friday squelched rumors that she would seek the Senate seat, calling it a “99.9 percent” certainty that she will stay put.
“I have no plans. I love my job,” she said.
Others rumored to be in the mix are Mike McGuire, Zane’s colleague on the board representing northwest Sonoma County; and Patty Berg and Michael Allen, who both served in the state Assembly.
In Marin County, San Rafael city councilman Damon Connolly and three-term county supervisor Susan Adams are said to be eyeing the seat.
“It’s potentially a very crowded field,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.
Evans, who was elected to the Senate in 2010, would be the overwhelming favorite to retain the seat were she to seek re-election.
She raised just over $50,000 from Jan. 1 to June 30 for a 2014 run, and also spent nearly $58,000 over that period, mostly on political consultants, state records show.
Supporters credit Evans with helping to create the nation’s first Homeowner Bill of Rights, battling for accountability in the much maligned California Parks Department and advocating for environmental causes and those that support women and children.
But she’s also displayed signs of burnout with a job that pays her an annual salary of $95,291, not including a per diem and other benefits.
Evans sparked an outcry in April 2011 when she suggested she would have to resort to hot-air balloons, llamas and other unconventional modes of travel to visit residents of her sprawling North Coast district following a state commission’s decision to take away her taxpayer-funded car.
In September of that same year, it was revealed that she had applied for a seat on the California Court of Appeal, only nine months after she was sworn in as a state senator. She did little at the time to dispel rumors that she also was interested in the job of county supervisor.
Evans was elected to the state Assembly in 2004 and, prior to that, served on the Santa Rosa City Council.
She resumed legal work for the Santa Rosa firms of Edgar Law and O’Brien, Watters & Davis LLP in 2010, state records show. Evans was an equity partner and trial lawyer with the Watters firm until 1990.
The two firms continued to rely on the senator’s services in 2012, paying her between $10,001 and $100,000 for the year, records show. The amounts represent a range of income that Evans legally had to report on financial disclosure forms for lawmakers.
“She’s been in the game for awhile,” McCuan said. “It’s not always been easy for her in the Assembly and in the Senate. In many ways, those institutions are an old boys club, and she rails against that.”
(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @deadlinederek.)