Mar. 9, 2012 | With just hours remaining before the deadline to run for office, State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett says she will not challenge Rep. Pete Stark this June, while strongly hinting at a future run for congress.

“I thank all my wonderful supporters for their encouragement to run for Congress, but before I do that, I want to finish the job I started in the state Legislature,” said Corbett.

Potential rival in 2014, Ro Khanna, recent said he would also not challenge Stark, at least, this election cycle. The suddenly contestable race for Stark’s nearly 40 year stranglehold on the congressional seat will involve fellow Dublin Democrat Eric Swalwell and Chris Pareja, a conservative-leaning independent. Michael Harris and Mark Gonzales also pulled papers last February, but have not officially declared their candidacies.

Corbett said she plans on continuing support for education and consumer protection as senate majority leader. She will likely take a high profile in the coming months as the Legislature again grapples with a looming battle over the state budget.

Corbett’s latest flirtation with higher office peaked late last year as several East Bay elected official began quietly posturing for Stark’s seat following Swalwell’s break with local Democratic orthodoxy and rumors of the congressman’s possible retirement. Stark, though, made it clear that he was interested in re-election. The move appeared to quell the insurrection. Both Corbett and Khanna appear poised to mount a run for the seat in 2014, with or without Stark in the race.

The announcement today by Corbett, though, comes as a surprise to some local insiders who believe the time is now to challenge Stark absent Khanna and his incredible campaign war chest. Insiders who have spoken to Corbett say she believes Stark will easily defeat Swalwell this November. Similarly, sources told The Citizen that Khanna shares the same opinion over Swalwell’s chances. Khanna also believes he could beat Stark in a general election this year, while Corbett could not. This begs the question as to why neither Corbett or Khanna are not challenging an incumbent they believe is beatable, but not vulnerable enough to be threatened by Stark’s likely chief rival in 2012?

It appears all are betting heavily against a Swalwell upset even as the upstart continues to get good reviews among voters in the Tri Valley area.

Remember this, East Bay voters with short memories of the recent misadventures of Mary Hayashi and Nadia Lockyer may not be so kind to the local Democratic status quo. Of all the race in the East Bay, the campaign for the 15th congressional district is the only race pitting a newcomer versus the old guard.