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Stanford Law Professor Lessig Considers Congressional Run

The founder for the Center For Internet And Society and proponent of Creative Commons is expected to decide around March 1.
Lawrence Lessig said he will decide soon whether to run for Congress.

The Stanford University law professor, author, founder of the Center for Internet and Society, and proponent of Creative Commons, has created a 10-minute video on his Web site (lessig08.org) explaining that he is considering a run for a vacancy created by the Feb. 11 death of U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo). He said he wants to run as part of a "Change Congress" movement. He said that unprompted support on draflessig.org, Facebook, and Zazzle led him to weigh a possible bid and create lessig08.org.

"This is a very difficult decision," Lessig said in his blog. "In the coming days, I'll reflect a bit about it here. Thank you to everyone who has tried to help -- both through very strong words of encouragement and very, very strong words to dissuade."

The video explains that "change" has emerged as a central theme in this campaign. It includes a clip from presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, saying: "Change doesn't happen from the top down in America or anywhere else. It happens from the bottom up." The next clip shows Sen. Hillary Clinton saying: "It's going to take a grassroots movement."

Lessig said he wants to change the way Washington works and the way campaign contributions influence policy and skews policy. He lists the federal government's support of junk food, junk science, and financial laws that give corporations advantages over citizens as examples of how money's influence creates other problems.

He said he'll try to create a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress who pledge not to take money from lobbyists or political action committees, vote to ban earmarks from the congressional appropriations process, and support public financing of campaigns. He said the Change Congress movement could gain momentum and increase participants over several election cycles.

He said he will decide around March 1 whether or not to run, based largely on how much support his announcement generates.

It would be a difficult race, he said, because the top person running for the position has experience and accepts money from lobbyists. He said former California State Sen. Jackie Speier has an excellent track record under the current system but he's offering to create a new system and ethic.

The announcement drew 55 comments in about 24 hours.

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