Rep. Xavier Becerra has his eyes on the Senate seat that is up for grabs thanks to retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

How serious is the California Democrat about running for the seat?

“One to 10, 10 being serious, 10,” Politico quoted Becerra, who is in his 12th term in the House of Representatives, as saying about launching a campaign.

“I’m talking to a lot of folks,” said Becerra, who is the House Democratic Caucus chairman.

“California is a very important state. As goes California, so goes the nation. We need to have strong leadership. Someone who can hit the ground running.”

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Earlier this month, Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power, announced that she will not seek re-election to a new term next year.

Boxer's retirement sets off a free-for-all among a new generation of California Democrats, who have had few offices to aspire to while Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein had a lock on the state's U.S. Senate seats.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has declared her candidacy for Boxer’s seat, and quickly got the public support of many Democrats on Capitol Hill. That has angered Latinos, Politico reported, who comprise some 40 percent of California’s population and who say it is about time a Latino was supported for a Senate seat to represent the state.

Other Latinos said to be mulling a run for the seat are former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats.

“The era is over in California where major statewide races are decided behind closed doors,” said Antonio Gonzalez, a Hispanic political organizer in the state, according to Politico, “as is the era where major statewide races have no Latino candidate.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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