Former Google executive and investor Lexi Reese announced on Thursday that she will be filing paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to form an Exploratory Committee for the 2024 California U.S. Senate race. Reese could potentially upend the current race even further as a candidate with a Silicon Valley business background.
A San Mateo County native and graduate of the Harvard Business School, Reese began her career as a documentary filmmaker. Her documentaries in Nicaragua quickly shifted her career towards advocacy, and she soon became a paralegal in the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York. Following that, Reese went to Washington and worked for Accion International, an international non-profit, focusing on microloans.
Over the next several years, Reese continued to work for numerous companies, including holding high positions in American Express, Google, Gap, General Catalyst, and the venture capitalist fund Operator Collective. Her shift to the tech would during this time had her relocate to Silicon Valley. Most recently she was Chief Operating Officer at the HR and payroll platform Gusto.
While Reese has skirted the political world, especially through non-profits and her time in Washington, she has yet to run for office or receive a political appointment. Despite this, she announced she was forming an exploratory committee on Thursday. Rather than just a straight announcement, details on her political team were also revealed, with Reese working with GPS Impact, the same group that was behind Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro’s (D) victory last year over GOP candidate Doug Mastriano, and Rebecca Pearcey, who was Senior Advisor to Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign.
“Today’s economy isn’t working. Californians are exhausted and stretched thin,” Reese announced on Thursday. “They’re working harder and more than ever, but everything costs too much. We have more people working than any time in our lives, yet folks are struggling with more widespread financial fragility and income inequality that puts the American Dream out of reach, especially for women and people of color.”
“The failure to adequately address these challenges is why so few people have faith in how Congress is doing its job, and it’s why California needs a different kind of leader representing us in the U.S. Senate.”
“As a working mom, I’ve spent my career in nonprofits and at technology and financial services businesses – working to help create economic opportunity for women and small businesses. I want to put that expertise to work on behalf of working Californians to make lives easier for everyone in our state.”
“Our great state is at a tipping point, and I believe we need leaders with a different perspective to get us on the right track. In the coming weeks, I will be conferring with family and friends about taking this step, and hope to have a final announcement to share with Californians soon.”
A more crowded 2024 Senate field
If made official, Reese would face off against the big three Democrats of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), as well as Republican attorney Eric Early and possibly former baseball star Steve Garvey for current Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) seat.
While she has the business and non-profit background of leading companies, a lack of name recognition, small history of fundraising, and no elected or positioned political experience could be a major hindrance if she enters the field.
“It may seem unusual to some that Reese would think of a Gubernatorial run, but California has had some recent candidates there be from the world of business, like John Cox and Meg Whitman,” Los Angeles-based political advisor and campaign advisor Roger Armstrong told the Globe Thursday. “The best comparison would be Whitman. Both have backgrounds at executive level positions in Silicon Valley tech businesses, Whitman being eBay and HP, and Reese having Google and Gusto. And both skirted around politics for awhile before jumping in. I mean, Whitman lost the race in 2010 to Jerry Brown, but she stuck with politics, even switched parties, and, 12 years after her run, Biden appointed her Ambassador to Kenya.”
“Back on point with Reese, she has a big mountain to climb. Schiff, Porter, and Lee already have huge campaigns in the works, have been fundraising like crazy, have been going around the state, and all have name recognition and bases of support. They also have half a years’ head start. Reese filed as a Democrat, so in the primary, she would have her work cut out for her. Early, the main GOP challenger right now, also has a solid base and support through past runs for office, and if Garvey gets in the race, there is another person running who is good at fund-raising and has big-time name recognition, especially in Southern California.”
“Reese would need to overcome all that. Her coming in as someone from the business, tech, and non-profit world would give her a unique background in this race, and many in the Bay Area would be inclined to vote for someone with that background, so she has a decent start. She also has money and is rapidly working on fundraising, which is also good. But she has no political experience, even compared to people like Garvey as at least he has flirted with the idea of running before and has been known to the political world for years thanks to being a big fundraising force.”
“She would also need to convince Democrats that neither Lee, Porter, or Schiff have the experience needed to be Senator. Even if you aren’t fans of them, you can’t deny the decades of political experience between them both in state and in Washington. She needs to run as an outsider outside the grips on Capitol Hill and Sacramento, as well as prepare for everything they can ding her on.”
“Reese would definitely upturn the race because she is a unique candidate who comes in with experience and views her opponents don’t have. But making the top two in March, especially against Schiff, Lee, Porter, Early, and maybe Garvey, plus whoever else comes in, is a tall order right now. But we have seen stranger things in this state.”
Reese is expected to give a final yes or no on a 2024 Senate run in the next few months.
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