Bob Hertzberg, former Speaker of the California Assembly, never really left the California political scene after he left office. Despite his venture into the business world, most notably helping to create a solar energy company, he spent plenty of time volunteering for groups attempting to reform the way California works. He also ran for mayor of Los Angeles and considered pursuing other offices. Now he has announced his plans to run for the 18th Senatorial District in the San Fernando Valley, currently held by Alex Padilla, who is already campaigning for Secretary of State and is supporting Hertzberg’s candidacy.
Hertzberg comes into this effort a formidable candidate, well connected to the Democratic establishment as well as the business community. Should he win election, it is not inconceivable that the former speaker some day could end up as the senate president pro-tem, perhaps the first person to hold both leadership posts.
More likely, should Hertzberg become a state senator; he would use his post to attempt to move the legislature toward major reforms. He likes “big picture” reforms. He served as co-chairman of California Forward, an organization dedicated to make governance reforms in the state, and was an influential voice on Nicholas Berggruen’s Think Long Committee, a group of well-known Californians that proposed major changes to California’s governance and tax systems. When he ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, Hertzberg offered a model of governance based on a city borough system, similar to the New York City model.
If elected, Hertzberg becomes the inside man on reforms.
Hertzberg has built ties with the business community during his time out of office. Understanding the difficulties of doing business in California (the solar business was set up out of the country), Hertzberg could be a voice of support for the business community within the majority.
Hertzberg served as a close, but informal, advisor to former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, starting as a member of his transition team. There was conversation that Schwarzenegger, in his post-partisan mode, would offer Hertzberg the Lt. Governor’s position when it opened up, a job that eventually fell to Abel Maldonado.
Hertzberg’s first task will be to convince the voters in his district that while he hopes to pursue big ideas in the senate to benefit the state as a whole, he can also help solve the smaller problems constituents are concerned about at home.