Sandra Fluke, the controversial birth control advocate who became an icon of women’s rights during the 2012 presidential election, has pulled out of the race to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman in California’s 33rd congressional district. The Los Angeles Times reports that Fluke will be running for the state Senate instead, adopting the district being vacated by Democrat Ted Lieu, who joins others in the race for the 33rd district.
“My entire career has been devoted to the public interest, whether representing victims of human trafficking or advocating for working families,” the 32-year-old Fluke said in a statement pregnant with irony: she only recently graduated from law school and passed the state bar. TheTimes says that Fluke “has been active in Democratic circles and has spent time working on issues related to the foster-care system and a living wage.”
Fluke would likely have courted the women’s vote in the district–which includes Malibu, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills–splitting it with Los Angeles mayoral runner-up Wendy Greuel and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson. Her decision to abort her congressional campaign at a very early stage may have avoided much of the national political controversy that a later decision to terminate the effort would likely have triggered.
Yesterday, it appeared that Fluke was determined to run for Congress, after she filed for the Democratic Party endorsement: the morning after, however, Fluke’s Washington ambitions appear to have been deferred. She will still be an important surrogate for the party on women’s issues, and may yet play a prominent national role in the 2014 midterm elections, in which Democrats hope to revive their “war on women” anti-GOP theme.
Fluke insisted the decision to withdraw was hers alone, not that of party strategists: “Fluke said such political considerations played no part in her decision, which she said was solely based on a belief that she would be able to accomplish more in the Legislature than in Congress,” the Times reports. Fluke will need to raise her own funds: California voters rejected a referendum to provide some public campaign funding in 2010.