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Whither Jackie Speier?

By Aaron Kinney
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm in 2008 Presidental Race, Barack Obama, Corruption, Democratic Party, Health care, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County.

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UPDATED BELOW

As you probably know, Rep. Jackie Speier (pictured above at a town hall meeting last year in Montara) is pondering a bid for California attorney general after a poll showed her having an advantage over other Democratic candidates, and with the candidate filing period opening Feb. 15, a decision is expected soon.

So which way is she going to go? It’s clear she’s fed up with Washington and the Senate in particular. Being a junior member of the House at a time of partisan gridlock has been difficult for her, especially when financial reform proposals she’s worked hard to pass are being tossed aside in the Senate, where Sen. Chris Dodd is in the process of caving in to Republican demands.

On the other hand, there is still a slim chance to enact historic health care reform legislation as well as contribute to a moment of great importance for Democrats, who have as good a shot as they’re going to get to enact significant policies on climate change and other issues. San Mateo County residents need leadership from Washington as far as stimulating the economy and creating jobs. And doesn’t every newbie in Washington have to pay his or her dues before rising in influence and seniority?

But Speier, 59, doesn’t have unlimited time left in public office. So she has to figure out how best to use that time, and maybe spending five years working her way up the ladder in the House isn’t it. And perhaps Capitol Hill really is so “dysfunctional,” as she put it, and the Senate is so corrupt and useless, that there’s no legitimate hope of winning important legislative battles or making a difference there.

If she runs for attorney general and wins, Speier will be able to spend much more time with her husband and two children — Jackson, 21, and Stephanie, 15. The commute to and from Washington has been a strain for her, newly hired spokesman Nathan Ballard confirmed this week. As attorney general, she’d also be able to focus on many of the consumer protection issues that are so important to her.

The hunch here is that Speier will run for AG. Maybe she’ll decide she has unfinished business in Washington. Perhaps her family could talk her into sticking with it, if that’s what they feel. But if we had to guess, we’d say her clear distaste for what’s going on in D.C., particularly the sausage-making that takes place in the Senate, combined with the need to be closer to her family, will tip the scales in favor of leaving the House and heading back to Sacramento.

UPDATE: Wrong! Speier released a statement today saying she will not run for attorney general.

“I am thankful that so many supporters came forward to urge me to run for statewide office, but after talking it over with my family, I have decided to stay in Congress,” Speier said in a statement. “I am convinced it is the right thing to do for my family, and I believe I can best serve my constituents by remaining in Congress and working hard on consumer protection, financial reform, jobs, and health care.”

So don’t ever listen to us again.

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