Capitol Alert

Democrat Louis Caldera weighing run for U.S. Senate in California

Democrat Louis Caldera, a former state lawmaker who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, is considering a run for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat next year, he said Wednesday.

Caldera said he is in discussions about what it would take to mount a statewide campaign, including a move back to California from Washington. Democrat Kamala Harris is the only announced candidate, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is weighing a possible bid.

Caldera said he would like to see more than one Latino campaign for the seat, and he reserved some criticism for those trying to narrow the candidate field.

“There is often a desire to clear the field by some people but I don‘t think that does anyone any good,” Caldera said in an interview. “I think people deserve a choice: Who the next candidate should be shouldn’t be up to political bosses or billionaire funders.” He added that “our democracy is impoverished” if efforts to clear the field for the early front-runner “ends up meaning we don’t have meaningful opportunities for voters to express their preferences.”

Caldera said there are a number of issues he cares deeply about that he doesn’t believe other candidates would emphasize in the same way, specifically the state’s high rate of children living in poverty. He mentioned his own upbringing as the son of Mexican-born immigrants who lived for a time in public housing.

Caldera, who served as president of the University of New Mexico, said he would take a different approach to education and creating economic opportunity, and said his military experience helps him understand threats to the nation’s national security and its leadership abroad.

“We live in a world that needs for the U.S. to be a strong leader in support of human rights, opportunity, market-based capitalism, rule of law, and to bring security and stability in the world,” he said. “Obviously, we are in a challenging time and will continue to be in a challenging time in the years ahead.”

At the same time he characterized American democracy as “broken” and lamented the influence of deep-pocketed special interests on government.

“What I am trying to think about is, how could you run a campaign that really reaches out to real people, where you could spend your time talking to Californians about the things that they care about and the problems they have,” he said.

“And how can you find solutions to those problems without getting caught up in partisanship and not by just doing the bidding of special interests that animate our politics on both sides of the aisle.”

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago.