California tech billionaire targets Elon Musk in launch of Senate campaign

Associated Press/David Zalubowski

California tech billionaire Dan O’Dowd announced a Democratic run for Senate on Tuesday in a campaign that will go after Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s self-driving cars. 

O’Dowd’s first campaign ad is a video of Tesla self-driving vehicles failing to work properly. 

“The first danger I am tackling is Elon Musk’s reckless deployment of unsafe Full Self-Driving cars on our roads. Tesla’s FSD software is the most unreliable safety-critical computer system I have ever seen,” O’Dowd said in his announcement. 

“Tesla warns their drivers that FSD ‘might do the wrong thing at the worst time’. This is completely unacceptable for a vehicle on public roads. Tesla Full Self-Driving should be banned from our roads immediately. We did not sign up our families to be Tesla crash test dummies,” he added.

O’Dowd’s statement says he worked on building operating systems for NASA, Boeing, Airbus and the U.S. military’s fighter jets as he became a “self-made billionaire.”

His multimillion-dollar ad campaign against Tesla vehicles was sent out nationwide on Tuesday to kick off his run for Senate. 

In an interview with The Hill, O’Dowd said although Tesla is a “significant” issue in the campaign, he will also be focusing on “poor quality software” that “has a lot of bugs and lots of problems” that “puts everybody’s life at risk.”

Asked if his narrow focus might turn away voters who care about other issues, he said “it’s uncertain” 

“The reason to do it is to show people that this is an issue that really matters, that this matters more than other things,” he said. “If I put out other positions and other issues, then, of course, they’ll be evaluating them.”

In an interview with Politico, O’Dowd said his motives for wanting Tesla off the roads were not personal, adding he would not gain financially from his moves. 

“This isn’t about competition, it’s about keeping our families and our communities safe from defective software that simply doesn’t work,” he said. He added “immediate success would be getting full self-driving [Tesla vehicles] off the road.”

O’Dowd is going up against current Sen. Alex Padilla (D), who is running for his first full term after being appointed in 2021 to fill Vice President Harris’s Senate seat.

Updated: 4:38 p.m.

Tags Alex Padilla California Elon Musk Senate elections Tesla

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video