Sandra Fluke, the attorney turned activist turned rising progressive star, has decided against running for retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s seat, instead opting to run for a California state Senate seat.
She tweeted this morning: “Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to #runsandrarun! I’ve announced my candidacy for #CA State Senate.”
In a statement first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Fluke explained her rationale.
“I am extremely moved by the outpouring of local and national support I have received since I announced that I was considering running for office. My entire career has been devoted to the public interest, whether representing victims of human trafficking or advocating for working families,” Fluke said late Tuesday night. “I am committed to continuing that fight in Sacramento, working to protect our environment, ensure our access to health care, and create the jobs that are desperately needed. While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress, I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community.”
The decision comes just a day after she filed to seek an endorsement from the California Democratic Party to run in the increasingly crowded race for Waxman’s (D-Calif.) seat, according to the state party Web site.
Instead, she will seek the seat now held by State Sen. Ted Lieu, who is running for Waxman’s seat.
Waxman’s seat, which will be open for the first time in nearly 40 years, has drawn a big field of candidates, and with a looming filing deadline, the number of candidates will likely grow.
Among the most competitive candidates is Wendy Greuel, a former city councilwoman and mayoral candidate, who nabbed the backing of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During her mayoral race, which she narrowly lost to Eric Garcetti, Greuel had the backing of prominent progressive group, Emily’s List as well as activist Lilly Ledbetter and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
In many ways, Greuel centered her mayoral campaign on her identity, running as “mom mayor” and making overt appeals to women, a strategy she could replicate in her run for Waxman’s seat. Attorney Barbara Mulvaney (D) and author Marianne Williamson (I) are also in the race.
Emily’s list, a powerful progressive group with 3 million members, has yet to endorse anyone, but offered praise for Greuel.
“Wendy Greuel is a true champion for LA women and families. We know she is capable of running a strong campaign and are impressed by her strong start,” said Marcy Stech, national press secretary for the group. “We are excited about this race and watching it closely.”
Fluke, a Pennsylvania native and Georgetown Law School graduate, has an outsized national profile, but has yet to build the sort of local support that Greuel enjoys. In opting not to run, Fluke spares women’s groups a tough dilemma.
Though it’s not clear that she will have an easier path to a local seat instead of a congressional seat.
“Not sure how much sense that makes. Remember, our state Senate districts are much bigger than our congressional districts — 53 congressional districts to just 40 Senate districts,” wrote Garry South, a California-based Democratic political strategist in an e-mail. ” So as an unknown, first-time candidate, she will face an even bigger task in introducing herself to the 26th SD (618,000 registered voters) than she would have to the voters in the smaller CD 33 (475,00 registered voters). Maybe she thinks there will be less competition in the Senate race.”
She was assailed by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, as a “slut” and “prostitute” after she testified before Congress about women’s health and contraception. Limbaugh later apologized.
President Obama later called her to offer his support and encouragement and to thank her for speaking out about women’s health and reproductive rights.
At the Democratic National Committee convention in September 2012, she was a featured speaker.
Emily’s List has yet to endorse in the raceWendy Greuel is a true champion for LA women and families, we know she is capable of running a strong campaign and are impressed by her strong start. We are excited about this race and watching it closely.