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Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, who bowed out of a state Senate race earlier this year, has filed paperwork to explore a run for state attorney general in 2010.

Canciamilla said he has "no definitive plans" yet and that any run "hinges entirely on what the current AG decides to do."

The current attorney general, Jerry Brown, has all but said he will run for governor and has recently begun a fundraising push.

"With so much speculation that he is running for governor again, it seemed like a good time to begin to see if there was any interest," Canciamilla said of his would-be attorney general run.

The Pittsburg Democrat, who blazed a moderate path during his six years in Sacramento, starts with one advantage: a load of campaign cash. He had more than $400,000 in the bank as of January.

Canciamilla backed out of a contested Democratic primary for state Senate right before the filing deadline this spring. He would have run against first-term Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who beat Caniamilla's wife in an Assembly campaign in 2006.

Canciamilla said in a statement at the time he hoped to avoid "a bloodbath between two Democrats, which is what this race would have been." The decision came after a meeting with incoming Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

In an interview on Monday, Canciamilla said his potential run for attorney general was "not part of a conversation" with Steinberg.

Canciamilla called the office of the attorney general "one of the two down-ticket offices that actually has some real authority and the ability to make a real impact" in California.

If Brown were to opt out of running for reelection, Canciamilla would be the first - but almost assuredly not the last - Democrat to explore running. No Republican has announced themselves as a candidate, though the 2006 nominee, former Sen. Chuck Poochigian, still has an active campaign account.

As attorney general, Canciamilla said he would focus on getting back "to the basics."

That includes, he said, "relationships with local governments, crime prevention, protecting seniors, reducing the amount of white collar crime," among other priorities. The challenge, he said, is "how we do that with less money and fewer resources."

Here's how Capitol Alert described Canciamilla's tenure in the Assembly back in March:

Canciamilla ruffled many Democratic feathers during his six-year stint in Sacramento, leading the so-called "Mod Squad," a group of business-friendly Assembly Democrats that exerted sway on legislation, particularly environmental bills.

In early 2005, he lost his chairmanship of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, in what he said was punishment from Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez for his leadership of the Mod Squad.

He remained outspoken about problems in Sacramento even after leaving office, telling the Los Angeles Times this week that "power needs to be returned to the hands of the membership" following Núñez's speakership. "I think Karen (Bass) can do that," he said.

First elected to his local school board at age 17, Canciamilla served eight years on the Pittsburg City Council and four years on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.

"I have spent my entire adult life in elected office," he said in the posted statement, signaling it was time for him to move on from the "rubber chicken circuit."

Three months later, Canciamilla could be headed back to the circuit after all.

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