The Recorder | May 3, 2017
by Cheryl Miller
SACRAMENTO—Jeffrey Bleich, a Bay Area litigator and former U.S. ambassador to Australia, has announced he is running for lieutenant governor.
Bleich, a Democrat, opened a campaign account for the 2018 race and said in a post on a political crowdfunding website that he’s running to “help us solve the tough problems that are holding back hard-working Californians.” Bleich said in a press release he would have more to say when he officially starts his campaign later this month.
A Dentons public policy and regulation partner in San Francisco, Bleich has ties to the nation’s top courts and Democratic leaders. He was a clerk for the late Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit when he met a Harvard Law School student named Barack Obama. Bleich also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist between 1990 and 1991.
In 1992, Bleich joined Munger, Tolles & Olson as a litigator. Seven years later, President Clinton named Bleich the director of the Commission on Youth Violence after the Columbine High School shooting massacre. He also served as president of the California State Bar’s board of trustees from 2007 to 2008.
Bleich was a top bundler for Barack Obama in 2008 and co-chairman of his California campaign. He joined Obama’s staff in 2009 as a special counsel to the president. Later that year the Senate confirmed his nomination as ambassador to Australia.
"This has been an extraordinary experience—really extraordinary, challenging, illuminating," Bleich told The Recorder in 2012. "It's hard to imagine getting a better job.”
Bleich returned to Munger Tolles in 2013, where he stayed until joining Dentons early last year. The Piedmont resident was a bundler for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and widely considered a judicial or legal appointee before she lost.
Three Democrats have filed to run for lieutenant governor in California, including another ambassador who served in the Obama administration.
Eleni Kounalakis, a major Democratic Party donor, was U.S. ambassador to Hungary between 2010 and 2013. State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, already has locked up the endorsements of many state Democrats. Pasadena physician Asif Mahmood, who hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last year, called himself a “triple threat” to President Donald Trump as a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan who now lives in blue-state California.