Tech executive considers jumping into US Senate race

Lexi Reese, a former tech executive and documentary filmmaker, has filed paperwork to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in California.

A San Mateo County resident, Reese is a former Google and American Express executive and the former chief operating officer for Gusto, an HR company for small businesses. She announced her exploratory committee for the seat on Thursday, saying an official announcement about a decision is forthcoming.

“Today’s economy isn’t working,” Reese said. “Californians are exhausted and stretched thin. They’re working harder and more than ever, but everything costs too much. We have more people working than any time in our lives, yet folks are struggling with more widespread financial fragility and income inequality that puts the American Dream out of reach, especially for women and people of color.”

If she enters the race, Reese will join three well-known Democrats vying to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie Porter of Irvine and Adam Schiff of Burbank.

Recent polling by Emerson College/Inside California Politics shows Schiff (15%) and Porter (14%) essentially sharing the lead, but with many more voters (47%) still undecided.

Reese, in her work at Gusto, helped small businesses obtain PPP funding during the pandemic, according to a 2020 Forbes profile.

She has worked in documentary filmmaking (in Nicaragua, her work highlighted the plight of girls who worked in prostitution to help their families financially) and in the Manhattan District Attorney’s sex crimes unit. She studied social entrepreneurship at the Harvard Business School, according to Forbes.

Reese has contributed small amounts to Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 White House bid, President Joe Biden in 2020 and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s 2022 gubernatorial effort.

Politico, which first reported Reese’s interest in the race, said she plans to pitch herself as a “different kind of leader.”

In her announcement of the exploratory committee, Reese cited a Gallup survey that found only 20% of those surveyed said they approved of how Congress operates. Pointing to income inequality and financial hardships, Reese said: “The failure to adequately address these challenges is why so few people have faith in how Congress is doing its job, and it’s why California needs a different kind of leader representing us in the U.S. Senate.”

“Our great state is at a tipping point, and I believe we need leaders with a different perspective to get us on the right track,” said Reese. “In the coming weeks, I will be conferring with family and friends about taking this step, and hope to have a final announcement to share with Californians soon.”

Feinstein, 89, is not running for reelection in 2024. She’s grappled this year with complications from a shingles diagnosis, but her office maintains she plans to finish out her term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2025.

Eric Early, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2018 and 2022, as well as for Congress in 2020, is vying for the seat. Former Dodgers star Steve Garvey is also mulling a bid as a Republican, an advisor confirmed earlier this month.