By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom, who until recently was a candidate for state Senate, now is weighing a bid for the 10th District Assembly seat held by Marc Levine.
“It’s something I’m taking a look at, but I’m not ready to make any announcements,” Carlstrom said this week.
Carlstrom confirmed that she has moved from her rented house in Santa Rosa’s junior college neighborhood to a house in Kawana Springs on the city’s southeast side.
That places the 30-year-old attorney and first-term councilwoman within the 10th Assembly District spanning Marin County, part of Santa Rosa and portions of western and southern Sonoma County.
Levine, D-San Rafael, is seeking a second term. The primary for the Nov. 4 election is June 3, with the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advancing to the November general election.
Levine Thursday said it wasn’t “really worth commenting on potential candidates at this point. It’s pretty early.”
Carlstrom announced her candidacy for the 2nd District Senate seat held by Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, on Oct. 8, three days after she became a new mother.
“I always knew that my advocacy and votes impacted future generations, but looking at my son, that knowledge is now personal,” Carlstrom wrote in a news release announcing her Senate bid.
She said she planned to kick off her Senate campaign with a listening tour in three North Bay counties focused on job creation, public education and sustainability.
Less than a month later, Carlstrom announced that she was dropping out of the race, citing concerns that she and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire, who had entered the fray, would split the Sonoma County vote and potentially hand the Senate race to someone else.
Rumors swirled that Carlstrom was planning to enter the race for McGuire’s supervisorial seat. Instead, she’s positioned herself for a state Assembly bid.
Carlstrom this week denied that she is seat-shopping. “I don’t think that’s the case,” she said.
She said that she and her husband, political consultant Nick Caston, were forced to move out of their rental on Denton Way after the couple discovered the house has “some lead problems.” She also conceded that living within the 10th Assembly district was a “consideration” for where the couple chose to relocate.
She said people she declined to identify are encouraging her to enter the Assembly race. She said she would not make an announcement until after the first of the year.
Levine, who said he plans on running a “strong campaign” for re-election, has already collected $350,000 for the campaign, according to his consultant.
Levine scored an upset victory over Michael Allen in 2012 to earn the Assembly seat.
David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University, said Carlstrom, should she decide to enter the Assembly race, could try and distinguish herself as the more progressive candidate to appeal to labor groups that heavily supported Allen’s losing bid.
“She also can make an appeal as a woman and mother that will give her a boost with many voters in that district,” McCuan said. “But her resume is much leaner than Levine’s.”
He said Carlstrom’s perceived political opportunism could hurt her, but maybe not enough to damage her chances at winning. He said state legislators are most vulnerable to being tossed out of office on their first try at re-election, as Levine is attempting to do.
“If Levine wins, he’s golden for the remaining time allotted under term limits — 12 years,” McCuan said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @deadlinederek.)