Congress Isn’t Enough for Sandra Fluke

The California activist, previously rumored to be running for Rep. Henry Waxman’s seat, has chosen a different route to legislating.

Sandra Fluke, here a third-year law student at Georgetown University, testifies during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in February 2012.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Feb. 5, 2014, 4:30 a.m.

When Rep. Henry Wax­man an­nounced his re­tire­ment last month, he in­sisted he was not leav­ing out of frus­tra­tion with Con­gress. The Demo­crat who was rumored to be run­ning for his empty seat in Cali­for­nia, however, may be stay­ing out of the race be­cause of it.

“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,” Fluke told the Los Angeles Times late Tues­day night.

The law­yer and wo­men’s-rights act­iv­ist plans to run in­stead for the state Sen­ate, where she be­lieves she would be able to ac­com­plish more than she would have in Con­gress. Fluke has a point: Aside from skirt­ing con­gres­sion­al grid­lock, stay­ing in state gov­ern­ment means Fluke will ac­tu­ally wind up with a lar­ger con­stitu­ency than she would have had in Con­gress, as Cali­for­nia has more con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts than it does state Sen­ate dis­tricts.

Fluke had moved from “strongly con­sid­er­ing” a con­gres­sion­al run last week to seek­ing party sup­port by fil­ing with the Cali­for­nia Demo­crat­ic Party on Tues­day. The de­cision sug­ges­ted to many that Fluke was already gear­ing up for a con­gres­sion­al cam­paign.

Fluke’s turn­around could be due to com­pet­i­tion for Wax­man’s seat. Demo­crat Ted Lieu already has a state sen­at­or’s gig un­der his belt, and former City Con­trol­ler Wendy Greuel was ex­pec­ted to at­tract a sim­il­ar set of voters as Fluke would have. Fluke worked with EMILY’s List, a polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee that seeks to elect Demo­crat­ic fe­male can­did­ates who sup­port abor­tion rights, dur­ing the 2012 elec­tion, but the group backed Greuel in an un­suc­cess­ful Los Angeles may­or­al race last year.

Fluke’s de­cision to run for state Sen­ate mir­rors a grow­ing move­ment among state gov­ern­ments to push ahead on policy is­sues, such as rais­ing the min­im­um wage and ex­pand­ing pre­kinder­garten edu­ca­tion, that are stalled at the fed­er­al level. These days, a young, up-and-com­ing politi­cian can more eas­ily build a repu­ta­tion in loc­al gov­ern­ment for get­ting things done than she could in Con­gress.

Fluke be­came a na­tion­al polit­ic­al celebrity in 2012, when con­ser­vat­ive ra­dio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” after her con­gres­sion­al testi­mony in fa­vor of re­quir­ing in­sur­ance com­pan­ies to cov­er the cost of con­tra­cep­tion.

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.