Last Thursday, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer announced her decision to step down from her seat in the Senate. Hailed by politicians as California’s greatest Democratic senator, Boxer has been a prominent advocate for popular libertarian issues regarding women’s rights, gun control and abortion.
Boxer, aged 74, informally announced her withdrawal from her seat in the Senate alongside her grandson, Zachary Rodham. Boxer has worked in Congress since 1982, when she was appointed to the House and has held a seat in the Senate since she was first elected in 1992. Since then, she has had influence over a generation of eager Democratic candidates.
Dan Schnur, executive director of the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, discussed possible effects resulting in the aftermath of Senator Boxer’s withdrawal from the Senate.
“Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were first elected to the Senate in 1992, so it will almost be a quarter of a century that has passed since this seat last became open, which means there is a whole generation of young and not so young Democratic politicians with a whole lot of pent up ambition waiting to spill out over the next couple of election cycles,” Schnur said.
In the three minute interview uploaded via Boxer’s YouTube channel, Boxer and her grandson formulated a Q&A-type discussion in which Rodham posed popular questions addressed to Boxer by the media.
“I am never going to retire, the work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016,” Boxer said.
Rodham opened the discussion by questioning why Boxer decided not to run in the 2016 election. Boxer assured Rodham and online viewers that her decision to withdraw from her seat in the Senate was not influenced by Washington’s bipartisan gridlock.
“You know, when you stand up there and you fight to make sure there is a strong middle class, and you protect women’s rights to choose, and you fight for jobs and a clean environment — all those things, human rights, civil rights — that’s a fight worth making. So, that is not a factor in my decision.”
Boxer made it clear of her intention to remain steadfast in the political arena.
“I am going to continue working on the issues that I love,” Boxer said. “ I’ll have more time to help other people through the PAC for change community, I have to make sure the Senate seat stays progressive, that is so critical, and I want to help our democratic candidate for president make history. But you know what, I want to come home to the state that I love so much, California.”
Rodham, a sophomore at USC, currently studies at the School of Cinematic Arts. Schnur commented on his role in the video.
“I was just happy to use a USC student as her interviewer, but I understand she knew him before he came to USC,” Schnur commented. “It was a very creative way of making the announcement. I don’t know this, but I am willing to guess that her grandson may have played some role in how it came together — either way we are really proud of him.”
While Boxer’s decision to withdraw from a 2016 senatorial race took many by shock, others predicted her departure.
“One of the best ways of deciphering whether an elected official is going to run for reelection is to watch how much money they’ve raised for the next campaign. Boxer has been a very prolific fundraiser throughout her career but had raised almost no money for the 2016 election, so, a lot of people had assumed that she was heading to the exit,” Schnur said.
Boxer’s decision not to run for the 2016 election opens doors for other charismatic Democratic candidates such as California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who officially announced she will be running for the vacant seat.
“Kamala Harris, the state’s attorney general, has just announced that she is running for the seat and Harris immediately becomes a very strong early frontrunner,” Schnur said. “Tom Steyer, the billionaire and environmental activist, said that he is considering running in the race, as is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Both would be formidable competition for Harris but there is no question that she starts in a very commanding position.”