Hayashi Covets Corbett’s Senate Seat

Many with knowledge of the political landscape believe Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi is gearing up for a run at state Sen. Ellen Corbett’s seat in 2010, but question whether a bloody battle for the state Senate is wise with the fate of San Leandro Hospital as its backdrop.

Most conversations recently regarding Hayashi typically involve an exaggerated scratching of the head. For instance, why did she co-author a bill with Corbett if she planned to let it die in committee?

The confusion in Sacramento from her office last week on a simple hearings schedule and a war of words over who’s better shepherding the saving of San Leandro Hospital seem silly and contrived. It’s all one big head scratcher if you leave out one important piece of information–Hayashi wants Corbett’s seat.

In recent weeks, Hayashi and Corbett have manufactured situations hoping to pin the possible demise of San Leandro Hospital on the other. The hot-button issue has the potential to carry into 2010 and will likely be the top issue in many local race from the two state race, the mayoral election in San Leandro and Councilman Michael Gregory’s seat on the city council. Gregory’s district includes the San Leandro Hospital campus.

“This is not the issue to be fighting over,” said Charles Gilchrist, a long-time political consultant in the area, “There will be other issues.”

One of the reasons for ramping up her campaign against Corbett are a few lessons gleaned from former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan’s ill-fated run for Don Perata’s Senate seat in 2008. The prevailing theory is the two year layoff became a liability. The downtime hampered Chan’s fundraising ability and removed her from the public radar–two things Hayashi would hope to avoid against the first-term state Senator.

Typically the odd year before an election cycle features this sort of contentiousness. Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak has already began to define distinctions between herself and Mayor Santos while other possible challengers have ramped up criticism in hopes of defeating the long-time pol. What appears different in the possible senate battle is Hayashi’s willingness to use a quality of life issue like the loss of the city’s only hospital for political points.

Meanwhile, the issue also has potential challengers to Hayashi’s assembly seat salivating to take shots of their own. “She’s not a good politician,”a possible challenger brazenly told The Citizen, “She’s not a good public servant.”