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— Less than a month after her re-election to the state assembly, Democrat Christine Kehoe has taken aim at the next rung of the political ladder, getting the jump on probable rival and ex-assembly Democratic colleague Howard Wayne. In a fundraising letter dated November 26, Kehoe writes, "I am delighted to share some exciting news. I have decided to run for the California State Senate in 2004 for the 39th District. (This is Senator Dede Alpert's seat -- she is leaving office due to term limits in 2004.)" Wayne is already out of a job, having been termed out this year after six years in the assembly and replaced by Republican Shirley Horton. He's said to covet a place in the senate but may face tough sledding against Kehoe, who, as one of the first lesbians to be elected to the legislature, can count on solid financial support from national gays. She also benefits from her assembly incumbency, allowing her to raise big money from special-interest fat cats with pending legislation. "I cannot rely on the Democratic Party to fund my communication during the primary campaign," Kehoe says in her fundraising missive, "and we must raise all of the funds needed for this race on our own -- and I am counting on your help. It may seem early to start campaigning for 2004, but the primary election is just over one year away and I need to raise $100,000 by December 31 to show that I am prepared for the race ahead. Please consider writing a check today -- early money in this race will help build the momentum I am going to need to raise over $1.5 million dollars [sic]." Who will claim Kehoe's assembly seat? Kehoe notes that her decision to seek higher office "clears the way for other excellent candidates to run and win -- as was done by Toni Atkins in her election to the city council District I represented before being elected to the State Assembly." ...Paul Robinson, the dapper dean of the city's developer lobbyist corps, drives an emerald green Porsche Carrera with the plates "LANUSE."

Takes La Bella to know one Ex-acting U.S. Attorney and San Diego ethics commissioner Charles La Bella, who helped Padres owner John Moores avoid indictment in the Valerie Stallings influence-buying scandal and now is handling the defense of Peregrine Systems, the bankrupt software outfit that enriched Moores while impoverishing other shareholders who bought stock while he hastily sold, has donned yet another hat. Last week his law firm, La Bella & McNamara LLP, issued a press release announcing they'd filed suit against Mercury Air Group, a private aviation service outfit whose directors, it is charged, used the company to finance sweetheart stock deals and buy an office building they owned at inflated prices. "As alleged in the complaint," the release quotes La Bella as saying, "the defendants in this case used Mercury Air Group as their personal ATM machine, engaging in breaches of their fiduciary duties and in self-dealing that raises corporate director and officer misconduct to a new level." Mercury president Joseph Czyzyk responded in turn: "La Bella & McNamara is weaving a web of deception to distract and discredit our company's management and negatively impact our company's operation. An interesting part of this week's activities is the stock purchasing being undertaken by a foreign-led group. Clearly all this is a curious coincidence." La Bella's law partner is Tom McNamara, who, while deputy U.S. Attorney, just happened to head up the investigation of Moores and his series of gifts to then-city councilwoman Valerie Stallings. Their client is Rancho Santa Fe's Andrew Chitiea, one-time chief financial officer of the old Signal Companies, Inc., itself once a target of shareholder lawsuits alleging insider deals and golden parachutes for high-ranking execs.

For sale Alecta Pension Insurance, the Swedish owner of downtown's 34-story Symphony Towers office complex, is shopping it around for $135 million, reports Real Estate Alert, which also says that the First National Bank Building on West A Street is being offered at $120 million ... Village Voice columnist Richard Goldstein has taken notice of our recent race for D.A.: "When a lesbian Republican got elected district attorney of San Diego, it was a national story: Dyke Bites Dog." ... A group of irate La Jollans, upset by a spate of rezonings and other perceived city hall slights, is working on an attempt to recall wealthy First District city councilman Scott Peters, whose wife is heiress to a multimillion-dollar manufacturing fortune ... Hawaii environmentalists are suing to stop the visit to environmentally sensitive Molokai of the cruise ship Statendam, sailing out of San Diego December 20.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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