Lessig decides not to run for Congress

Grant Gross
PC World
Tuesday, February 26, 2008; 12:19 PM

Cyberlaw author and professor Lawrence Lessig has decided not to run for the U.S. Congress after briefly flirting with the idea, he announced on his blog Monday.

Lessig said last week he was considering a run for the House of Representatives seat in Silicon Valley vacated upon the death of Representative Tom Lantos, a Democrat, earlier this month. Lessig, an advocate for free software and online civil liberties, had considered a campaign after a "draft Lessig" movement launched online.

But Lessig wrote Monday that a run for Congress would not help his Change Congress initiative, which he launched this month. After consulting with a pollster, Lessig decided there was also "no possible way" to achieve the name recognition he needed to run against Jackie Speier, a popular former Democratic state senator in California, in the primary election scheduled for April 8, he said in avideo on his blog.

"Certainly, we would lose this race, and not just lose in a tight contest, but lose in a big way," Lessig said.

Losing big, he said, would not inspire others to join theChange Congressmovement, focusing on getting lawmakers to stop taking money from political action committees and lobbyists and to stop adding so-called earmarks for special projects in appropriation legislation.

Lessig expressed "regret that this movement, this challenge to change Congress, doesn't have, here, an early and easy victory."

Lessig thanked people who already sent money, said they'd volunteer or weighed in on whether he should run, "especially the many friends who in the harshest way told me it would be a mistake."

Several posters on Lessig's blog applauded him for deciding not to run. "Ultimately, I think it is a good call," wrote one. "You ... have always had your eye on the bigger picture, on the long-term struggle and I am glad we have you fighting on our side. Looking forward to participating in the Change Congress movement."

Lessig, a Stanford University professor, is author of books such as "Free Culture" and "Code 2.0." He has served on the boards of the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Public Library of Science, and Public Knowledge.

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