October 18, 2018

Zev Yaroslavsky won’t run for Congress

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will not make a bid for the seat currently held by retiring Congressman Henry Waxman (D – Beverly Hills).

Yaroslavsky’s announcement, emailed to the Journal early Friday afternoon, brings to an end wide speculation over the past week about whether Yaroslavsky, who was first elected to Los Angeles City Council in 1975, might make a play for Waxman’s seat.

This is not the first time that Yaroslavsky, 65, has declined to run in a race that many thought he could win – and he obliquely acknowledged as much in his statement.

“The last thing I thought I would be doing in February, 2014, was considering another run for office,” Yaroslavsky said. “But I was asked by several close political and personal friends to think about that proposition, and over the last week, I have done so. In the end, I decided against starting a new career in Congress at this stage of my life.”

Waxman, a 20-term incumbent, announced on Jan. 30 that he would retire from Congress at the end of 2014. Immediately following the announcement, two prominent Democrats — former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel and State Senator Ted Lieu — announced they would run for the seat. The field of potential candidates is still quite fluid: Sandra Fluke, a women’s rights activist who has never held public office, briefly considered running for Waxman’s seat, only to decide to run for Lieu’s seat in the State Senate instead.

The primary ballot is expected to be very crowded, but political observers had argued Yaroslavsky would have been a top candidate for the seat.

Had he been elected, Yaroslavsky would not have been the oldest freshman to join the House of Representatives. Rep. Allan Lowenthal (D – Long Beach), was 71 when he was first elected to Congress in 2012.

But Yaroslavsky’s rationale to forgo the race recalls his reason for passing on the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral race. After months of telling reporters that he was thinking about running for mayor, he announced in August 2012 that he would not run.

Yaroslavsky referenced that decision in announcing this one.

“I said in 2012 that four decades in elected office was long enough, and I meant it,” Yaroslavsky said in a statement on Friday, Feb. 7. “I am committed to public service and to advancing those public policies I have believed in all my life, but I intend to do so outside of elected office.”

Yaroslavsky, who has represented the third district on the Board of Supervisors since 1994, cannot run for reelection this year because of term limits. He has not said what it is that he’ll do after leaving office in December.

In fact, Waxman is among those who are curious about what Yaroslavsky will do after he leaves office later this year. Waxman said he brought it up in a conversation with Yaroslavsky on Jan. 30. 

“When I started the conversation,” Waxman told the Journal, “I said to him, ‘Quack,’ because we’re both lame ducks. And I told him, we need to go into business together. What are we going to do?”