I Am Not Running for Senate

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

I have all the respect in the world for the federal government, and its wars, its failure to pass rational immigration policy, and its gross violations of my privacy. But my life and work are in California, not Washington (though I do have a rental and enjoy attending conferences there).

I am more interested in serving the state government than being in the Senate. I think it would be more fun to be frustrated as a governor than it would be to be frustrated as one of 100 U.S. Senators.

Of course, I could be interested in the other U.S. Senate seat if it opens up in 2018. Though I do believe that Dianne Feinstein will live forever.

I have decided that I prefer to hold onto my real power, which involves using Independent Expenditures to bully people who don’t share my views on the issues.

My decision was not based on the fact that I’ve never held elected office before, or that I don’t have a broad command of all the issues. After all, that didn’t stop Tom Steyer from taking a look at the race.

My decision was not based on being unknown. That’s true of almost all of the candidates. Pop quiz: is Duf Sundheim animal, vegetable or mineral? Heck, my Los Angeles baker, who is politically connected, doesn’t know Kamala Harris’ name.

My decision was not based on having no chance to win, since Republicans will be in the race and they have no chance of winning either.

I am not afraid of the fact that no one in Southern California votes — because I live in Southern California, and people here know me, and, since they know me, I was certain they were never going to vote for me anyway.

I am not running because I am committed to my current job, which involves serving the people of California, or occasionally amusing them, or at least making them write angry letters to the editor.

I am not running because I wish to spend more time with my family, who I already never see because the traffic is terrible.

Yes, I have heard the cries from the Scots-Irish of inland Southern California. I too don’t appreciate how people of our background, and our region, are being taken for granted by the San Francisco machine. And I will never stop running.

But c’mon, do you see how much money I’d have to raise to run for Senate? Okies don’t have that kind of cash.

I treasure my friendship with our attorney general, and I trust that she and Willie Brown will reward my loyalty at some future date.

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