A disgraced, outed gay Republican, driven out of Congress, asked me to have dinner with him after he had gone through some kind of treatment for alcoholism. The invitation surprised me since I had helped out him. But it was a pleasant enough evening. One thing especially stood out. He asked me for advise about moving to Hollywood and running for Congress in CA-28, my district. He told him that the district is too blue (D+23 at the time) for a Republican. Trump scored 22% against Hillary and Romney had only gotten 26.5% against Obama. Besides, people really like the incumbent, Adam Schiff, and no Republican who ever ran against him scored even 25% of the vote.
He responded that he would switch to a Democrat and that wouldn't it help that he was gay and Schiff isn't? I explained that
a- Schiff is considered very gay-friendly and has greta relationships in the LGBTQ activist community;
b- West Hollywood and Silverlake are just a sliver of the district, which is far more progressive than it is gay;
c- Gays aren't fond of child-molesters, which is-- whether he was denying it or not-- is what he was;
d- His record was way too anti-gay for anyone to take him seriously.
He said his record on gay issues was good-- but he wasn't used to discussing it with someone who had been watching it closely for years and could push back on that absurd claim. Anyway, luckily for him, I talked him out of it.
Fast forward to... yesterday. Billionaire Sheryl Sandberg announced that she is stepping down as chief operating officer of Facebook, #2 in the company after Mark Zuckerberg. The NY Times reported that yesterday she "said she was leaving Meta-- which also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger-- this fall. In an interview, she said she had expected to be at the company only for roughly five years rather than the 14 she has served. She added that she planned to focus on her personal philanthropy and her foundation, Lean In, and that this summer she would marry Tom Bernthal, a television producer... Sandberg is ending her tenure at Meta far from the reputational pinnacle she reached last decade. A Harvard graduate who served as the chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers during the Clinton administration, she made her name in Silicon Valley by helping to build Google’s nascent targeted ads business into a multibillion-dollar juggernaut.... [Her] reputation grew with the 2013 publication of her feminist business book, Lean In, a manifesto for working women based on her experience in government and business. It became a best seller and launched her personal brand, though some critics said Sandberg’s advice came from a life of privilege."
Today Business Insider reported that, like the former gay congressman I had dinner with, Sandberg "may pursue a career in politics after she leaves Facebook, with some Beltway observers highlighting her high profile, a history of business success, a popular book, and a compelling personal story... One person suggested Sandberg is eyeing Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat."
That's ironic, since that would-- like the gay congressman-- put her in contention with, in all likelihood, Adam Schiff. Schiff, a money machine, has been saving up for the race and had around $18 million in his campaign machine as of his May 18 FEC report. For a congressman, he has huge statewide name recognition and appears to be admired by most Democrats.
Facebook is really hated by many people involved in politics and I'm betting that people will vote against Sandberg based on that alone. The trio of Times reporters who wrote the story noted that questions about toxic content, privacy and antitrust violations dog the company." Everyone I know hates Facebook for bad personal experiences using the platform and for the imperious way it operates.
Sandberg flirted with leaving Facebook. In 2016, she told colleagues that if Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, won the White House she would most likely assume a job in Washington, three people who spoke to her about the move at the time said. In 2018, after revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she again told colleagues that she was considering leaving but did not want to do so when the company was in crisis.
Last year, Zuckerberg said his company was making a new bet and was going all in on the metaverse, which he called “the successor to the mobile internet.” In his announcement, Sandberg made only a cameo, while other executives were more prominently featured.
As Zuckerberg overhauled the company to focus on the metaverse, some of Sandberg’s responsibilities were spread among other executives. Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs and a former British deputy prime minister, became the company’s chief spokesman, a role that Sandberg had once taken. In February, Clegg was promoted to president of global affairs for Meta.
Sandberg’s profile dimmed. She concentrated on building the ads business and growing the number of small businesses on Facebook.
If she were to run for the Senate seat, she would presumably do so as a self-funder, another serious strike against her. Open Secrets reported that as of mid-March candidates had already spent over $100 million of their own on campaigns. "[S]ix House candidates and 13 Senate candidates gave $1 million or more to their campaigns. Five of those candidates spent at least $5 million of their own money self-funding their campaigns over the course of the year. The majority of 2021’s self-funding candidates are Republican."
Most of the self-funders whose primaries have already taken place have lost. Look what happened in Ohio's Senate race. This is how much each candidate self-funded-- obvious attempts to buy the seat-- along with their percentage of the vote:
Mike Gibbons- $16,820,000 (11.7%)
Matt Dolan- $10,597,000 (23.3%)
Bernie Moreno- $3,781,495 (withdrew)
Jane Timken- $3,500,000 (5.9%)
JD Vance- $700,000 (32.2%)
Mark Pukita- $477,527 (2.1%)
The GOP Pennsylvania Senate primary still hasn't been called but big self-funders in that one included the top two candidates-- Mehmet Oz ($14,160,235) and Dave McCormick ($11,000,000)-- as well as several confirmed losers: Carla Sands ($3,900,000) and George Bochetto ($550,000).
And in Arizona we have Jim Lamon at $13,000,000 so far and Mick McGuire at $1,030,106. (It's probably worth mentioning at this point that a friendly billionaire, Peter Thiel, put $13.5 million into Blake Masters' campaign, the same amount he put into JD Vance's campaign in Ohio.)
And let's not forget Mike Bloomberg, who self-financed his presidential campaign to the tune of $1 billion and got nowhere. In fact, another billionaire in that race, Tom Steyer, spent $348.1 million and also got nowhere. Democrats don't usually like self-funders. Or people who ran hated companies.