DOWNTOWN — City Councilman Bobby Shriver, who was recently re-elected to another four-year term, is considering a run for state attorney general next year.
In an interview with the Daily Press, Shriver, who is the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and the brother of California First Lady Maria Shriver, said he has had informal discussions with supporters who are urging him to become California’s top cop, but he is nowhere near making a final decision.
Shriver, who was first elected to the City Council in 2004 after taking on City Hall over the heated hedge issue, said there are many factors that would play into a decision to run, most importantly his family, his wife having just given birth to a girl. Shriver said he also has some unfinished business in Santa Monica, mainly solving the homeless issue, which has been his main focus while sitting on the dais.
“There are a lot of serious issues to consider, but the fact that people are thinking of me is interesting,” Shriver said Friday.
The 54-year-old Democrat, who is the son of Sargent Shriver, the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps and the Democratic Party’s 1972 vice presidential candidate, is a relative newcomer to politics, having never been interested in following in his family’s footsteps until the hedge issue sparked a desire to run for public office. Shriver spent many years as a newspaper reporter, feeling he could make more of a difference using the written word.
“But when I was elected, I was able to have influence … and realized I could use political office in the same way I used the newspaper,” Shriver said.
Shriver’s sister recently said that she has no plans on running for public office in 2010. The Democrat said she is too much of a free spirit to be tied to a desk job.
“I’m not really comfortable in the office. I’m too much of a free spirit,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m trying to use my entire life experience from being in a public family, my experience as a reporter, and everything else in the work I’m doing right now.”
Harvey Englander, a Democratic political strategist who managed both of Shriver’s successful runs for council, said the Yale Law School graduate has the qualifications to serve as attorney general.
“He is creative when it comes to solving problems,” Englander said. “He’s a strategic thinker and completely independent. He’s very practical, concerned about the environment, but also about jobs and business, so I think he would be a very formidable candidate and a very formidable attorney general.”
Current Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat and former governor who ran for president against Shriver’s uncle Ted Kennedy in 1980, is widely expected to run for governor in 2010. If Brown does not, that could make a big difference in whether or not Shriver runs given that it is much more difficult to unseat an incumbent, said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies.
“It’s really all speculation at this point,” Stern said. “But (Shriver) is well known.”
In addition to being a member of the Kennedy dynasty, Shriver has made a name for himself as the co-creator of the (RED) campaign with U2 frontman Bono, which helps raise money to fight disease in Africa.
One potential opponent is Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who was defeated by Brown three years ago. Delgadillo has already filed papers with the secretary of state that allow him to begin fundraising. Delgadillo faced some controversy two years ago when he admitted his wife was driving his city car with a suspended license when she got into an accident in 2004. The SUV was repaired at city expense. He repaid the city $1,222 in 2007 when the incident became public.
In August, The Los Angeles Times reported that federal authorities were investigating Delgadillo and his wife, seeking information about her consulting business and whether she paid all taxes on its income.
He has also recently faced criticism for a 2006 settlement he negotiated with billboard companies that allowed 840 billboards to be “modernized” and upgraded to digital displays.
But Delgadillo also has won some victories lately. Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge ruled that he could seek to recover $5 million from a street gang that has long held a monopoly on the downtown heroin trade.
Others rumored to be interested in the job are San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and Republican Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who is also considering taking on U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Some of Shriver’s colleagues on the council said they were not surprised that he is considering a run for higher office.
“He did mention to me before that he might one day consider running for a statewide office,” said Councilman Bob Holbrook.
Councilman Richard Bloom said it is only natural for those who enjoy serving the public to consider taking on more responsibility and have a greater chance of making change.
“I think Bobby would bring a lot to the table, but I don’t know what candidate mix is out there,” Bloom said, pointing out that it would be much more difficult to run against an incumbent.
Shriver is seen as an independent on the council, having personally funded the majority of his campaigns for office. He and Holbrook are the only two members of the council not endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, Santa Monica’s leading political party.
Whether or not Shriver does decide to run, he has friends in high places, including his brother-in-law, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.