Gavin Newsom pulled out of the governor’s race and set the punditry world abuzz about the possibilities of another Democrat jumping into the June primary. While some Democrats like the idea of a clear field for Attorney General Jerry Brown, still nominally exploring a run, others asked, as expressed by former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in his S.F. Chronicle column in reference to the 71 year old Brown with 40 years in the political world, “Can’t we find someone with a newer paint job?”

Names flying off the page include Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former Controller Steve Westly, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congress members Loretta Sanchez and Jane Harman, and, of course, the old standby, U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Old not being an indication of age here, even though she is Brown’s senior by five years. Old in the sense her name has been linked to the governor’s chair for twenty years.

Imagine the domino effect if Senator Feinstein does consider running for governor. Yes, this stretches the imagination somewhat, but we are talking politics after all, and stranger things have happened in the political world over the course of just one year. As recent proof, I refer you to the man occupying the White House and his standing a year out from his election.

So here goes: The first domino that falls is Newsom’s resignation from the race. This act prompts Feinstein to reconsider her position about running. Supporters point to the polls that she can win the nomination and that Jerry Brown’s colorful history could make him vulnerable in the general election.

Domino Two: Lt. Governor John Garamendi wins his race for Congress in the special election and vacates the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

Domino Three: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger needs someone to fill the L.G. office with someone acceptable to Democrats in the legislature who must confirm the pick. As I’ve written before, in his quest for a legacy as a reformer, Schwarzenegger turns to a long time advisor who is leading a reform effort. The governor can charge this individual with overseeing reforms. He can be approved by the legislature because he’s a well-connected Democrat: Bob Hertzberg.

Domino Four: Feinstein decides to run for governor and dedicate herself full time to seeking the office. She resigns her position as United States Senator.

Domino Five: The governor now must appoint someone to fill the Feinstein seat in the senate. Once again opportunity strikes for the man who has spent a lifetime conquering impossible odds. Schwarzenegger’s term as governor is coming to an end and he knows that he would have trouble being nominated by the Republican base as a candidate for just about any position. But if he wants this job, the only person he needs approval from is his wife, Maria.

Granted, this won’t be an easy task, but politics runs in Marie Shriver’s veins. With Uncle Teddy gone, he could argue the senate could use a dose of Kennedy influence even if it is filtered through her Republican husband.

Domino Six: Maria says, Yes.

Domino Seven: Arnold Schwarzenegger appoints himself U. S. Senator to fill the Feinstein seat. (Not without precedence in California. See Latham, Milton — Govenror for five days in 1860 before resigning to replace Senator David Broderick, killed in a duel. Latham actually had to be approved by the legislature in those days but, as governor, he let the legislature know he wanted to be senator and pulled the right strings.)

With all the dominoes down, left standing is the next governor of California: Bob Hertzberg.

It could happen … couldn’t it?