No kidding. With the 2012 election winners sworn into office a whole six minutes ago, it's already time to focus on campaigns two and even four years out.

Here's a look at 2014 and 2016 East Bay races already generating more buzz than a beehive blessed with a bumper crop of wildflowers:

  • State Senate 7th District -- A much-anticipated mega-showdown is already under way between Democratic assemblywomen Susan Bonilla, of Concord, and Joan Buchanan, of Alamo. The seat opens in 2016, when incumbent Mark DeSaulnier terms out.

    "It's clear they know they are running against each other," a source said. "In Sacramento, they are scrutinizing each others' bills and when one appears at a public event in the other's district or sends a staff member, it sends a signal."

    Both women are whip smart and articulate, and one could become Contra Costa County's first female state senator. But which one has the edge?

    Bonilla will likely still be in public office through 2016 (she ran unopposed last November) and will enjoy the advantages of incumbency. Buchanan terms out in 2014 and must find a way during the two-year gap to stay relevant.

    On the other hand, Buchanan presumably has ample personal funds for what could be a very expensive contested campaign. She put nearly $1 million of her own money into a failed 2009 congressional bid.

    Watch for both legislators to raise their profiles. Their first opportunity could come with Gov. Jerry Brown's education funding reform bills; Buchanan chairs the Assembly education policy committee and Bonilla leads the Assembly education budget committee.


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    Interestingly, all three state senators with Contra Costa constituents term out in 2016.

    In addition to DeSaulnier, Loni Hancock in the 9th District and Lois Wolk in the 5th are in their second and final terms. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, of Berkeley, and former Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson are expected to duke it out in Hancock's district.

  • 16th Assembly District -- This is the seat Buchanan will vacate in 2014.

    Several possible candidates have surfaced, including Walnut Creek City Councilwoman Kristina Lawson and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti. Both say they are looking at the seat but are nowhere close to making a decision.

  • 15th Congressional District -- Ellen Corbett, a state senator from San Leandro who terms out in two years, raised expectations and eyebrows when she made her debut appearance at the Contra Costa County Democratic Party Christmas party.

    She's expected in 2014 to challenge Eric Swalwell, the former Dublin councilman who shocked the party apparatus in unseating veteran Congressman Pete Stark in November.

  • Contra Costa County -- Supervisors Karen Mitchoff, of Pleasant Hill, and John Gioia, of Richmond, are up for re-election in 2014 and speculation about who might take them on is making the rounds.

    No one is specifically targeting Mitchoff yet, but there's talk that Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin might challenge four-term incumbent Gioia.

    McLaughlin terms out as mayor in 2014 and obviously enjoys the political limelight. Gioia would be a formidable incumbent, but it would make great political theater.

    Heck, if only half of these races live up to the hype, the East Bay will remain an embarrassment of riches for political junkies.

    GOT POLITICS? Read PoliticsWithLisaV.blogspot.com:

  • Contra Costa County recruits clerk-recorder/registrar of voters applicants to succeed the retiring Steve Weir.

  • Sadly, Richmond Councilman-elect Gary Bell is too ill to take office. He remains in a medically induced coma after treatment for a severe infection.

    AND FINALLY: Readers have posed some intriguing ideas for the Labor Day grand opening of the new Bay Bridge.

    Alpio Barbara wants to see Harley Davidson motorcycles roar across the span. Conveniently, he is the assistant director of the Golden Gate Harley Owners Group.

    Bob Bowen suggests football coach and commentator John Madden, of Pleasanton, fire up his bus and lead a parade across the span.

    Then, the "ultimate pitchman" could "auction a trip to the Super Bowl on the Super Cruiser to the biggest contributor to the brand new Super Span," Bowen wrote.

    If football doesn't ring your bell, how should the Bay Area celebrate the opening of the world's largest self-anchored suspension span? Send your thoughts and I'll feature the best ones in an upcoming column.

    Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com, politicswithlisav.blogspot.com or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.