The California state Capitol in Sacramento. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The California state Capitol in Sacramento. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

See How They Run: Candidates Lining Up for 2018 Governor's Race

See How They Run: Candidates Lining Up for 2018 Governor's Race

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Up and down the state, candidates are gearing up for the next election. The 2018 gubernatorial election, that is.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is in and is quickly assembling a war chest. Ditto state Treasurer John Chiang. Former California schools superintendent and East Bay Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin says she's gearing up to run, and Bay Area billionaire Tom Steyer is said to be considering it, too. And former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he'll be jumping in as soon as next week.

Republican political consultant Mike Madrid says it's going to be a crowded and largely Democratic field. That will tempt viable Republicans to test the waters, including perhaps San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

"I think you're seeing a younger, newer generation of Democrats that represent various constituencies, different voices in the Democratic Party," Madrid says. "And I think it's probably a conversation we've needed to have in California for at least 10 years."

Madrid says he doesn't think the governor's race is going to dominate Thanksgiving dinner discussions. But he says the only thing bigger than running for California's top job is running for president.

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"It takes early planning, it takes a lot of groundwork. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions," he says. "And it's going to take a lot of early mobilization of key voting groups."

Keep an eye out for official announcements shortly after the presidential election concludes.

The gubernatorial race isn't the only one getting the political world talking. In fact, there could be a more immediate seat to fill. If California Attorney General Kamala Harris wins her U.S. Senate bid, as polls indicate she likely will, Gov. Jerry Brown will need to appoint someone to fill out the remainder of her term.

Among the names speculated on as possible successors to Harris are retired Superior Court judge Katherine Feinstein -- whose mother is Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, Ann Ravel, federal elections commissioner and former chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), and even Gov. Brown's wife, attorney Anne Gust Brown.

Scott Lay, who is tracking potential candidates for his daily Sacramento roundup called the Nooner, says Brown may be thinking long term.

"Gov. Brown appears to tilt toward candidates who are likely to win election on their own and likely through the governorship in 2026," he says. "That may rule out some possible caretakers, but tells a strong story for an appointment by someone who arrived as governor via the AG office, as did his father."

He writes that Brown will likely stay away from any sitting lawmakers.

And just in case that's not enough to make your head spin, there's also the possibility that Sen. Feinstein -- who at age 83 is the oldest member of the U.S. Senate -- will announce her retirement. That would set off yet another scramble for a coveted open seat on the 2018 ballot.

Please pass the turkey.