What are your thoughts about the three-candidate race for the 3rd District Senate seat?

According to polls and conventional wisdom, it looks like a tight race between former North Coast Assemblyman Joe Nation and San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno. But incumbent Carole Migden, who as of last week reportedly still had $737,500 in her war chest, shouldn’t be counted out, despite a series of highly publicized, embarrassing incidents over the past year. Leno and Nation both reportedly had less than $200,000 to spend.

What’s odd is that Nation still needs Migden to do well – well enough to syphon a significant number of San Francisco votes from Leno to open the door for Nation to win. Nation was a popular North Bay legislator when he served in the Assembly from 2000 until he was termed out in 2006. He has received the endorsement of the Marin Independent Journal, the Petaluma Argus-Courier and, as of Sunday, The Press Democrat. But it’s not an easy district for someone from the North Bay to win. Sonoma County voters comprise just 17 percent of all voters in the district, although overall the North Bay represents nearly 49 percent of the vote for the district.

Meanwhile, the campaign between Leno and Nation is getting nasty – with independent expenditure committees weighing in on both sides. Leno and independent expenditure committees such as Opportunity PAC, a group that is supported by labor unions representing educators, health care providers and others, accuse Nation of taking money from “corporate interests.” Meanwhile, Nation and his supporters responded last week noting Leno was supported by “strip clubs and producers of pornographic movies.” Meanwhile, both are fighting over who is more “green” and who took the strongest – and earliest – stand against the Iraq war. The next week is critical as the candidates scramble for the votes of the last-minute undecideds, who may be the difference.

– Paul Gullixson