Amanda Renteria, a longtime Democratic operative and the national political director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, has filed paperwork to run for California governor.
Renteria, Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s operations chief, a job she took following her 2014 loss to Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, had been telling Democratic strategists that she was mulling what one described as a “disruptive” bid to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown. She did not immediately return a text message seeking comment on her statement of intention to run.
Becerra, who is running for a full term this year, has not endorsed in the governor’s race.
Renteria, 43, would join a contest featuring a male-dominated field led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Her filing comes amid renewed questions into the leading Democrats’ extramarital affairs, now against the backdrop of the roiling #Metoo movement. Delaine Eastin, the state’s former schools chief, is far behind in polls and fundraising.
Renteria, who grew up in Woodlake southeast of Fresno, has been a favorite of Central Valley Democrats, even drawing then-Vice President Joe Biden to a rally for her campaign. She first met Becerra, whom she joined in Sacramento as a way to battle the Trump administration in the legal arena, while working as chief of staff for Sen. Debbie Stebenow, D-Michigan. She also worked for California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“California and other states are recognizing that the White House has real implications on everyday life even though you are 3,000 miles away,” Renteria told McClatchy’s Vida en el Valle last year.
Democrats were shocked and puzzled by the filing, with former state Sen. Dean Florez, a Villaraigosa supporter from Shafter, saying he was saddened by the development.
“If you are running for Governor, announce 6 months ago, attend the debates, hold a press conference with your supporters & speak directly to the press,” he wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtags #spoiler and #badpolitics.
Others close to Villaraigosa, who could lose voters to her given his focus on Latinos and voters in the Central Valley, downplayed her significance, unless Renteria can raise considerable money.
It’s unclear who would staff Renteria’s campaign: Three of the people who worked on her 2014 congressional bid are working on a Super PAC ai,ed at helping Villaraigosa.
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman told The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday that she won’t have a speaking slot at the party’s convention later this month in San Diego.
“The convention program is done. I couldn't even squeeze in two minutes,” Bauman said.
She also will not be part of the party’s endorsement process, he added.
Garry South, a strategist from Los Angeles who has helped run four gubernatorial campaigns in the last 20 years, noted Renteria does not have a public profile in the state.
“Her name on the ballot alone won’t make her a player in California,’ he said.
Newsom and Villaraigosa, meanwhile, have been campaigning for some time, and both were early Clinton backers in 2016 and 2008, when Villaraigosa was her national co-chairman.
“It’s way too late to get into the 2018 race. It’s too late to raise any significant amounts of money,” South said.
“I don’t know what she’s thinking. I just don’t see it. I think it’s crazy.”