Longtime Republican policy advisor and Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen said that he is seriously considering a run for the State Controller Office next year.
In an interview with Politico, Chen noted that it would be an uphill climb for any Republican to be elected as Controller, the Chief Financial Officer of the state, as no Republican has held the office since 1975 when Houston Flournoy was Controller.
“Voters may be ready for something different,” said Chen on Wednesday. “There will be plenty of discussion to allow people to see me for who I am.”
The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Chen grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Rowland Heights before getting multiple degrees from Harvard University, including a JD and a doctorate in political science. Following graduation, Chen went on to get multiple appointments from Stanford University, including a fellowship at the Hoover Institution. But what became more widely known for was being a policy advisor and counselor across multiple political campaign. At only 26, Chen was the healthcare advisor for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Following that, Chen became one of the most sought out advisors in the Republican party.
Chen proceeded to serve as the Domestic Policy Director for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Deputy Campaign Manager and Policy Director for Steve Poizner’s 2010 gubernatorial run, Policy Director and Chief Policy Advisor to the 2012 Romney Campaign, Senior Adviser on Policy to the 2014 National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Senior Advisor for Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, and a return to being an advisor to the 2018 NRSC. During this time, Chen also appeared as a commentator and expert on virtually every major network and news network, ranging from CNN to Fox News to the BBC.
A possible 2022 State Controller run
However, with current Democratic Controller Betty Yee unable to run again next year due to term limits, Chen is looking to possibly venture into something he has only advised on: running for public office.
“Chen has the extraordinary ability to be multiple things at once. He can go from professor to political advisor to tv talking head to chairing a health board meeting in a single day,” explained California political consultant Ruby Thompson to the Globe on Thursday. “He is very well known to the Republican Party. I’ve heard him be described as the ‘GOP’s answer to Walter Reuther‘ in terms of just vision and advising. And he’s only 42. The GOP is lucky to have him in any capacity he chooses, especially out in California. And if he’s looking at elected office now, well, the Democrat’s are going to be very weary.”
“A lot of prominent Democrats are looking into running for the state controller position. And even in such a Democratically controlled state, they fear Chen. They can’t even touch him on his resume, because Barack Obama actually nominated him to the Social Security Advisory Board when he was president, showing that he is respected by some of the top people in their party too.”
Chen is still currently going over if he can run successfully and has been talking with many advisers recently on making such a move.
“I’m figuring out if I can put together an organization effort that’s going to be successful,” added Chen to Politico on Wednesday. “The controller’s office is about good government, being able to essentially go at any problem that we see in the state, and have an analytical approach. I just think that, given my experience in policy and in all the things I’ve done in my career in life, it’s a good way to apply some of those skills, to solve these problems.’”
Chen will likely come to a decision on a 2022 state controller run in the next six weeks.