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The next election for Santa Clara County district attorney is still three years away, but the list of candidates is seeming as long as the one to replace Gov. Gray Davis in the October recall. Though District Attorney George Kennedy hasn’t officially said he’s not running again, four lawyers who work in his office are already circulating their names for a run. They join a handful of Santa Clara judges who also may be mulling a race. The latest potential candidates to enter the fray are Deputy DAs Kimberly Connors and Benjamin Field. Both have said they’ll run if Kennedy retires. In December, Deputy DA James Shore and Assistant DA Marc Buller announced their intention to run if incumbent Kennedy bows out, and colleagues say the two are already recruiting supporters. Several superior court judges are also thought to be contemplating a run, including Ron Del Pozzo, Rene Navarro, Dolores Carr and Edward Lee, several sources said. The judges didn’t return calls Friday. All four are former prosecutors who have campaign experience. Del Pozzo was elected to the bench in 2002. Santa Clara voters elected Carr in a runoff election in 2000. Navarro was appointed to the Santa Clara Municipal Court by Gov. George Deukmejian in 1986 and elected to the superior court in 1994. Lee was elected to superior court in 1996 after serving four years on the municipal court. Connors, who’s now prosecuting sex crimes, said all the early campaign frenzy is expected. “This is the first time in 16 years it’s been wide open for people interested in the job to have the opportunity to run for it,” she said. Field, who now prosecutes major cases including rapes and homicides, said all the early campaigning by others forced him to throw his hat in, too. “Unfortunately there is already some campaigning going on for the office. That made it necessary to put my name out there,” Field said. “The race could distract the office from its mission and potentially divide the office. George and I are both concerned about that possibility.” But Field admits that he’s already done a little campaigning himself. He has asked his former boss, former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, to support his campaign. Field, who worked as an adviser and speechwriter during her successful 1990 campaign, said Hammer has pledged her support. Other candidates have also been spotted pressing flesh at civic events. “I have met with many friends and opinion leaders throughout Santa Clara County to get their thoughts and ideas about the future of the DA’s office and my possible candidacy and received a lot of encouragement and insight,” Shore said Friday. But the big question is: Who is Kennedy supporting in 2006? “Myself,” Kennedy said Friday. “I sure haven’t decided to retire. It’s still three and a half years off, and I have no retirement plans now, and I like working.” Kennedy, who was first elected in 1990, called the current campaigning a bit “premature” but still “civilized.” “There is some potential for harnessing energy,” Kennedy said. “If people want to demonstrate they are qualified for the job, that gives me the opportunity to give them work and achieve things on behalf of the people.”

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