A veteran health policy expert who has advised several presidential campaigns and the Bush administration will run to become California’s next controller in the midst of a massive epidemic of fraud that has hit the state’s employment division.
“It’s about making the case to people that we need a check and balance in Sacramento,” Chen told the Times. He said the controller’s office is “the best place to make that argument, that you want someone who’s willing to call balls and strikes, who isn’t part of the one-party monopoly, who isn’t just there to look after everyone else’s political career.”
California’s controller has the authority to audit government agencies and to keep an eye on how government divisions spend taxpayer money. The incumbent, Betty Yee (D), faces term limits next year.
A handful of prominent Democratic state legislators are considering their own bids for the office, including Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), head of the Assembly’s Budget Committee; state Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D); and state Sen. Richard Pan (D).
Chen, who turned 43 on Sunday, has spent his career as a prominent Republican policy expert on health care. He worked in the Department of Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush administration, before serving as policy director on Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIn Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line Trump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE’s 2012 campaign.
Four years later, he directed domestic policy for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE’s (R-Fla.) presidential bid, and he has advised Republican Senate candidates through the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He is close to another potential presidential contender, Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonIs the Navy totally at sea? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats MORE (R-Ark.), his college roommate.
Chen declined to tell the Times whether he voted for former President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE in either 2016 or 2020.
“I do not want this candidacy to be defined by the former president,” Chen told the paper. “And I’m going to do everything I can to talk about the future of California, the future of the Republican Party too, by the way, and that’s something I’ve committed to.”
Chen is likely to face a difficult race in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to a statewide office since 2006. No Republican has won the controller’s office since Houston Flournoy won reelection in 1970. And Democrats enjoy an almost 2-to-1 advantage in voter registration in California.
President BidenJoe BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE carried California over Trump by more than 5 million votes, a margin of 29 percentage points. Biden won more than 63 percent of the vote in 2020, the highest level of support any presidential candidate had won in California since Franklin Roosevelt’s first reelection campaign in 1936.