STATE SENATE | 10TH DISTRICT | ANALYSIS | Mary Hayashi said she was ready to discuss real issues at the beginning of a recorded interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. The focus though started with another round of questions over her 2011 shoplifting case, which she later plead no contest.

Much of the inquiry featured repeated questions over the details of the arrest at the San Francisco Neiman Marcus already heard many times. Similarly, Hayashi repeated numerous apologies during the portion of the interview posted online Thursday.

However, in what is sort of a flashback to the type of evasion  Hayashi offered in the aftermath of the incident, she said, “I did not shoplift $2,500 worth of goods.” Hayashi then added, she tried to pay for the good once she was approached outside the department store.

The question now for Hayashi’s bid for the 10th State Senate District is not whether it was a benign brain tumor, forgetfulness or whatever that put those piece of clothing in her shopping bag, but today whether she squandered the level of contempt towards her that may have lessened over the past three years.

As Hayashi noted in the interview, state officials have done far worse or have been accused of far worse acts against California voters since 2011. In addition, Hayashi’s ticket to the pantheon of notorious politicians did not include her duties as an assembly member. But now, the already tenuous acceptance of her as a candidate is rolled back to a time when absolutely nobody was on her side. Back to the days in the fall of 2012 when the once most feared politician in the East Bay sat lonely among the Democratic party leaders she once lorded over, a pariah in search of acceptance.

In the meantime, if Hayashi fails to finish in the top two next June 3, what will be lost is significant because without her in the race and her campaign finance power, it is likely the November election will go from a tightly-contested race to an afterthought, especially if it is the Republican who finishes in the top two. In that scenario, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski will not have to face the intense scrutiny that asks whether he is an up-and-coming politician or just another assemblyman seeking the next step up on a record without distinction.