The race in a newly created state Assembly district that encompasses part of Sonoma County and all of Marin County is starting to heat up in one of the few contests statewide to feature two Democrats running against each other.
Assemblyman Michael Allen and his challenger, Marc Levine, earned the right to compete for the 10th Assembly District under California's new top-two primary system.
The race has gained attention in part because it is one of about two dozen in the state pitting members of the same party against one another in the general election on Nov. 6.
Allen, a former union leader who has risen quickly through the ranks of power in his first Assembly term to become assistant majority floor leader, has the support of Democratic Party leaders in Sacramento.
The only hope that Levine, a first-term San Rafael city councilman, has to counter that support is to run an "insurgent candidacy," said David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University.
McCuan said Levine faces a "significantly uphill battle because the powers of Sacramento, and the interest groups around Sacramento, do not want to see a fractious Democrat-on-Democrat battle."
Allen did not return messages left over three days this week seeking comment on his candidacy.
He and Levine have gotten testy with one another over everything from endorsements to Allen's decision to relocate to San Rafael in order to qualify to run in the redrawn district.
On Tuesday, a campaign aide to Levine alleged in a letter to Sonoma County tax officials that Allen violated state law by claiming a homeowner's taxation exemption that Allen is no longer entitled to after his move to Marin.
The complaint was filed by Bruce Raful, Levine's campaign treasurer and a certified real estate appraiser.