Asm. Sandre Swanson

Dec. 13, 2011 | Termed-out Alameda assemblyman Sandre Swanson made official what many have expected–a primary challenge against fellow Democrat Loni Hancock for her seat in the state Senate.

The Tribune Tuesday reported Swanson’s intention to file nomination papers at the end of this month. “I intend to be the first in line,” Swanson told the newspaper.

A consultant for Hancock asserted Swanson had previously indicated an intent to go “shopping for a district.”

It’s a curious gambit for Swanson, who by many accounts served his assembly district well, if not without distinction over the past five years. Hancock’s redrawn senate seat may well be the impetus for Swanson’s belief he could pull off an upset next year.

In the past, Hancock’s district started in Albany to the north and followed a path through Berkeley (her power center), Oakland, Alameda and including parts of Dublin and Pleasanton. The region’s new set of vote next year will be somewhat less liberal and stretch from parts of Western Contra Costa County through Albany, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and San Leandro.

Another reason for Swanson’s run surrounds the state’s first-ever use of an open primary system which does away with voters participating solely in elections of their own political party. Under this system, it is likely two candidates from the same party could face each other in the general election and regardless of one candidate gaining a majority in the primary. The California primary is scheduled for June 5.

NOTE: a correction was made in explaining the new open primary process. The top two vote-getters in the June primary advance to the November general election and regardless of party affiliation.