Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig announced he was entering the presidential race on Sunday, making him the sixth Democratic candidate to throw his hat into the ring. Lessig made his announcement on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. The professor plans to focus heavily on the need for campaign finance reform and redistricting reform.
Through crowdfunding, Lessig has raised over a million dollars in seed money for his nascent campaign. Earlier in the year, he announced that his decision to enter the race would be contingent on being able to raise at least that much money at the outset.
While Lessig is interested in focusing on the worthy goals of campaign finance reform, increasing voter access, and ending partisan gerrymandering, he does not appear interested in actually serving as president. He claims that if he were elected president, he would hand over the reins to his vice president, after signing electoral reform into law.
Lessig has included a poll on website, giving site visitors an opportunity to weigh in on who he should choose as his running mate. In addition to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, Lessig lists Neil de Grasse Tyson, Elizabeth Warren and Jon Stewart as other possibilities to consider.
While Lessig’s goals for addressing the shortcomings of America’s electoral system are worthy, it remains to be seen whether his campaign will gain any traction in convincing voters to support him as a presidential candidate.
Lessig’s first goal is to gain access to the Democratic presidential debates. The goal is probably achievable since the Democratic National Committee’s threshold of being above one percent in the national polls is a pretty low bar to clear. If Lessig clears that threshold, he would have an opportunity to make his case for electoral reform in the first Democratic debate, scheduled for October 13th in Nevada. While its hard to imagine Lessig could ever secure the Democratic nomination, his ideas for reforming our election could be presented on a national stage.