Lehman drops out of North Coast senate race

Another challenger for Noreen Evans' state Senate seat dropped out of the race Monday in what may involve political fall-out over a dispute between Evans and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg.

Arcata resident Chris Lehman is the second person to quit the contest for the 2nd District state Senate seat held by Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who is leaving office this year.

Lehman said Monday he will support Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire, who is becoming a heavy favorite to win.

"I just became convinced that he is going to do an amazing job in the state Senate," Lehman said of his former rival. "That's the whole reason I got into the race in the beginning -#8212; to make sure we had that representation. And that's the reason I'm getting out now."

Political observers said other factors likely were also at play, including a dispute between Evans and Steinberg that could have cost Lehman support from the powerful Sacramento establishment.

Lehman is a Democratic Party consultant who helps raise money for state senators, including Steinberg, who in an Oct. 8 email urged his colleagues to endorse Lehman, according to a copy of the email obtained by The Press Democrat.

The following day, Evans sent her own email to senators in which she asked them to hold off backing a candidate in the race, calling it "premature."

That appeared to freeze any unified Senate support for Lehman's campaign.

"The inability of the pro tem (Steinberg) to deliver caucus endorsements undoubtedly was a factor in his (Lehman's) decision," said David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University.

Evans' email may also have cost her politically.

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