Sandra Fluke has decided not to seek the Congressional seat held by retiring California Rep. Henry Waxman. Instead, she'll run for the State Senate — which is an altogether better idea.
Fluke — who the Los Angeles Times helpfully reminds us "became famous in 2012 after radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a 'slut'" for advocating expanded birth control coverage — filed paperwork to replace Waxman on Tuesday. Since Limbaugh put her on the national radar, Fluke has been working in California, building relationships with Democratic leaders and worked as an advocate for women; a career in politics seemed inevitable. Aides later clarified that the filing was simply Fluke keeping her options open, and, sure enough, she opted against Congress. Instead, she's running to represent California's 28th Senate District, replacing the current state senator who is himself running to replace Waxman.
Again: This is a better decision. A much better decision.
Fluke would be one of 40 senators instead of one of 435 representatives. "While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress," she said in a statement, "I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community.” No question. California's State Senate is a heavily Democratic body of 40 people from around the state. Under Gov. Jerry Brown, the Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly have been effective at advancing progressive policy measures. On Capitol Hill, Fluke's progressive voice would be, at best, muted.
She doesn't have to leave California. The weather in Washington, D.C. right now is a sloppy, sleety mess. In Senate District 28, which covers western Los Angeles and a number of small municipalities with names that end in "Beach," it is not. Granted, Fluke will be based in Sacramento, which is not exactly paradise, but it's a quick flight from L.A. And even Sacramento has better weather than Washington, D.C.
The path to victory is probably clearer. While a Democrat won't have too much trouble winning Waxman's seat — Cook Political Report rates it as "Solid Democratic" — winning the primary wouldn't have been a sure thing for Fluke. The Times notes that she would probably have faced another Democratic woman with decent name recognition, Wendy Greuel, which could have fractured her base of support.
Building a résumé will only help her political career. It's not often that Congressional seats in California come up for grabs, and the jockeying around them when they do can be brutal. But the urge of celebrities and the wealthy to jump straight into the Capitol Building is often a fruitless one. By proving that she is committed to the community — and by taking the time to learn the intricacies of political positioning — Fluke is probably better positioning her future ambitions.
Sadly, Rush Limbaugh took a "rare" sick day on Tuesday and was not around to comment on / say horrible things about those ambitions. Perhaps he will do so today. Or, perhaps, it was Fluke's ambitions themselves which prompted his illness. If that's the case, expect more Limbaugh sick days as Fluke's campaign progresses — as good an argument for her candidacy as any.