Barbara Boxer -- The December 5 deadline for candidates filing to run against her rapidly approaches, and the GOP has yet to find a heavyweight for their ticket. They're still courting Congressman David Dreier (the de facto head of Schwarzenegger's transition), but that looks like a no go, keeping Babs and her $5 million warchest in good shape.

Howard Dean -- Dean snatched up two huge public employee union endorsements this week -- SEIU and AFSCME -- keeping the Dean juggernaut moving forward with incredible speed. Couple that with the week rival John Kerry had, and Dean soars upward.

Sunne Wright McPeak -- The former Contra Costa county supervisor becomes the first Democrat nominated to a cabinet post by Guv-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. As Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, she'll oversee Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, the California Housing Finance Agency and the departments of Motor Vehicles, Alcoholic Beverage Control, Corporations, Financial Institutions, Housing and Community Development, Managed Health Care and Real Estate. As a Democrat, she joins Arnold adviser Bonnie Reiss in helping out his partisan balancing act.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn -- After getting kicked around pretty hard and becoming the poster children for "special interests" during the recall election cycle, the prison guard's union resurfaces to show they do still have some clout -- as 20 lawmakers sign up to spend three days in at the union's Maui conference, which starts a week the legislature meets in special sesssion to deal with budget and workers' compensation issues.


Governor Davis -- Movin' down, possibly for the last time. His final week in office basically uneventful, Davis will officially be replaced in the Guv's seat on Monday by Guv-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's more than a lingering sting.

John Kerry -- Is it possible to have a worse week than this guy did? He kicked it off Sunday by firing his campaign manager, Jim Jordan -- which was intended to create a new (and, we suppose, better) dynamic within his drooping presidential campaign. But calling his staff while audibly eating dinner and mispronouncing the name of one of his staffers while on the call just deepened the impression that this guy is out of touch. On Monday, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, and deputy finance director, Carl Chitlow, walked. He rode his Harley onto Leno's Tonight Show stage, wearing a leather jacket, and fell flat. By Thursday, he was calling the three departed staffers to apologize for telling a reporter he'd be "better off" without them. Way to turn a one-day story into a week's worth of bad news, John!

Mary Beth Cahill -- Tapped by John Kerry to replace his ousted campaign manager, this former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and EMILY's List adviser has taken on the messiest internal squabbling of the 2004 cycle, and is charged with turning Kerry from a lead balloon into this year's "Comeback Kid." Lots o' luck to you, Ms. Cahill.

Bill Jones -- While his name was still floating around as a possible candidate to unseat U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Jones was instead tapped by the Guv-elect to head up the CA Resources Agency -- on the same day the current agency head sent word that this department is about to go under due to budget problems. Okay, sure, it's a challenge -- but is that really the challenge Jones was hoping for?

Contact Penelope Scott at: pscott@politicsca.com