Video: Open Senate Seat Is an Earthquake in California Politics

John Heilemann gets a read on which California Democrats are ready for the political major leagues.

California Open Senate Seat a Political Earthquake

The Republicans are in control of Congress, and through two consecutive midterm elections they have written a compelling thesis that voters want conservatives in charge. The biggest exception to this argument is the nation's biggest, richest, golden-est state: California. Its bright-blue leaders have overwhelming support—and now their reserves are ready to take the field.

With Barbara Boxer's announcement on Thursday that she won't be seeking another term, a U.S. Senate seat from California will be opening up for the first time since 1992. Two years later, Senator Dianne Feinstein is widely expected to vacate her spot also—along with Governor Jerry Brown, who will be forced out by term limits.

California has no shortage of rising-star Democrats eager to throw themselves into the political melee—Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Tom Steyer among them. Late last year, John Heilemann flew out to his home state just ahead of Election Day to take in the World Series—and to get a read on which of these Democrats is ready for the political major leagues.

Featuring former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, and the San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli.

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