Chris Lehman suspends candidacy; Arcatan endorses Sonoma supervisor for state Senate seat

Arcata native Chris Lehman announced in a letter Monday that he will be suspending his candidacy for the soon-to-be vacant District 2 state Senate seat in order to endorse an opponent -- Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire.

"I just feel really strongly after getting to know him that he and I share a similar philosophy on how to represent a seven county district as diverse as District 2," Lehman said in an interview.

Lehman stated in the letter that his reasoning behind his decision was that he felt he and McGuire were trying to achieve the same goals.

"Supervisor McGuire and I have similar backgrounds and beliefs," Lehman wrote in the letter. "Our biggest difference is geography ... That is not a sufficient reason for us to wage a costly campaign against each other when both of us believe that the job of a Senator is to represent all seven counties on the North Coast."

Lehman said his 15 years working in the State Senate influenced his decision.

"I did not know McGuire before the race, but I knew the Senate," he said. "I've worked with dozens of senators and when you see someone with the skill set, energy set and experience that wants to dedicate his life to the job, that's the guy you want to help."

McGuire said he and Lehman will working together many times over the remainder of the campaign.

"Look at this as a partnership," he said. "Prosperity in the North Coast is a priority and I look forward to working with Chris to deliver those results."

For this upcoming weekend, McGuire said he and Lehman will be in Eureka and Arcata "knocking on doors" and will hold a small event on Saturday hosted by Lehman.

"I'm just grateful to be working with him on this important race for state Senate," McGuire said.

After Sen. Noreen Evans announced in September that she would not be running for re-election in 2014, Lehman was the first person to announce his candidacy. Soon after, Novato City Mayor pro tem Eric Lucan and Supervisor McGuire announced their own bids.

During his campaign, Lehman received several endorsements from well-known local political figures including Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and Humboldt County Supervisors Mark Lovelace, Virginia Bass, Estelle Fennell and Ryan Sundberg.

Lehman said in the letter that in the months leading up to the November election, he will be helping to build "the coalition we need to elect strong Democratic leaders to the Senate."

"I am pleased to be able to help (McGuire) become the best senator that our region has ever had," Lehman said.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or whouston@times-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston

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