The son of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a leader of the court’s liberal wing, is in a tough race for California State Assembly in San Francisco.
Supreme Court justices are the lowest profile of America’s top political leaders, and Breyer’s run has drawn no attention outside California.
That the candidate’s father is a Supreme Court Justice is not exactly a secret, but the campaign cannot interact with Justice Breyer in any way. The campaign’s website only mentions Breyer’s father once — putting as much emphasis on his past career as a “professor and federal judge” as his current title.
“His dad has not been involved in the campaign in any way, shape, or form,” said Michael Terris, a consultant to the younger Breyer. “He has kept his distance from the campaign. That’s the nature of Justice Breyer’s interpretation of the rules — that he’s not allowed to get involved in any campaign anywhere, and that includes his son’s.”
“We’re certainly not hiding it, but because of the sensitivity of it, we can’t talk about his father’s positions on issues,” added Terris. “We can mention that his dad is on the Supreme Court, and we do, but there’s not a whole lot more we can do that that.
The campaign has sent one mailer out to voters that includes Justice Breyer among a list of members of the Breyer family who have been involved in public service.
Because of the state’s top-two primary system, Breyer, a Democrat, is running against another Democrat — San Francisco County Assessor Phil Ting — who won the June 5 primary by a 34 percent margin. The two candidates are fighting for California’s Assembly District 19, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County in its jurisdiction.
Breyer — who is running as “a moderate by San Francisco standards,” according to Ferris — has never held public office before. He is a San Francisco-based businessman whose two biggest ventures have been tied to the courtroom. He founded Courtroom Connect, a company that broadcasts civil litigation, and he helped develop what his campaign’s website calls “the world’s first public WiFi network in a courthouse.”
Despite Breyer’s lack of public-sector experience, he has California Sen. Dianne Feinstein as a supporter. In a 2011 letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Feinstein endorsed Breyer for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. Breyer didn’t get the seat, but there is now speculation that Feinstein may endorse Breyer in his bid for State Assembly.
“Senator Feinstein has not endorsed the campaign, but we are in ongoing discussions with her,” said Ferris, adding that Breyer “would love her endorsement.”
Correction: Phil Ting won the primary against Breyer by a 34 percent margin, not a 14 percent margin.