Healdsburg City Councilman Jim Wood announced Friday that his campaign for the state Assembly seat representing the North Coast has been endorsed by the incumbent, 2nd District Assemblyman Wes Chesbro.
Wood's early entry into the race and strong fundraising have already made him a frontrunner among several Democrats vying for the seat. Chesbro's endorsement could bolster that status.
"Jim Wood has the background and experience as City Councilmember and Mayor and as a small town healthcare provider, to hit the ground running as our advocate in Sacramento," Chesbro said, according to Wood's announcement.
Chesbro, an Arcata-based Democrat and veteran state legislator, is being termed out next year.
His endorsement of Wood, a dentist elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2006, was an apparent change of direction for Chesbro. Four months ago he declined an interview about the candidates lining up to replace him.
"He doesn't want to talk about any potential successors to his seat," Andrew Bird, his spokesman, said in April. "He just wants to stay away from that."
At that time, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was rumored to be considering a run for Chesbro's 2nd District Assembly seat. Carrillo's July 13 arrest has halted that speculation.
Other Democrats vying for the open seat include John Lowry, the former executive director of Burbank Housing in Santa Rosa and Hezekiah Allen, a Mendocino County environmentalist who leads the Mattole Restoration Council.
Elissa Wadleigh, chairwoman of the Sonoma County Republican Party, said she was not aware of any GOP candidates committed to run for the seat.
The 2nd Assembly District stretches along the coast from the northern half of Santa Rosa to the Oregon border and includes all of Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties.