California Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman has barely announced his retirement, but already the pundits are off to the races trying to decide who is the most likely to declare for his seat. A most surprising name have been bandied about, however.
“I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate,” she told a local radio station. “A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running.”
Fluke, a lawyer and now women’s rights activist, doesn’t have the elected experience that some of the other names that are being discussed hold. What she does have, however, is a crash course on how to deal with right wing attacks and smears, which seems to be far more necessary in today’s campaigns, especially for female candidates.
Fluke was piled on by conservative politicians, activists and pundits as the face of all that is wrong with liberal women for having the audacity to speak out in favor of the contraception mandate and to suggest that women shouldn’t have to go broke buying birth control. The speech put conservative blowhards like Rush Limbaugh into rage overdrive.
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right?” opined Limbaugh. “It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” Ann Coulter called her a “hysterical drama queen,” and one Montana state representative even referred to her as a “studding bulldog.”
As offensive and toxic the debate surrounding her statements became, Fluke never pulled out of the limelight. She spoke at the 2012 Democratic convention. She campaigned across the country on behalf of President Obama. Even now, she does public events, speaking to advocates and urging activists to move beyond the abortion and birth control debate and further embrace the full spectrum of reproductive rights, including trans health initiatives and infertility issues, too.
“This doesn’t mean turning away from the fights we’ve historically fought, but it means making sure we are moving to these new frontiers,” Fluke urged at a California Women’s Policy Summit earlier this month.
Supporters are already getting into the game, jumping on Twitter to urge her to declare under the #runsandrarun tag. “First time I heard @SandraFluke speak.. I knew that @rushlimbaugh had created a monster for justice,” tweeted one supporter. ”Call me a dreamer but I would love #SandraFluke in the Congress. Dreams come true, @SenWarren was elected and is kicking a**” said another.
Even without the right wing ire, it would be a hard race. It will be a hard hitting primary battle, with numerous Democrats vying for a seat that will be open for the first time in decades in a very safe Democratic district. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come often and the potential for a win to turn into a lifetime in the seat is very real. Expect anyone who vies for the nomination to make their campaign an aggressive one.
Then again, Fluke has already shown she doesn’t wither under scrutiny or criticism, be they valid attacks or not. Plus a high profile race may just tempt Republicans to pay attention to a seat they otherwise may not have noticed, just for the sake of running their anti-Fluke talking points through the talk show circuit. And any attention that race garners means resources the GOP can’t spend somewhere else.
Will Fluke run? It’s still too soon to tell. But it would be quite a race to watch.
Photo credit: Sandra Fluke facebook page