News & Opinion | July 13, 2020 3:58 pm

Cooper Hefner Is Running for California Senate

The Playboy heir has pivoted to various forms of public service in recent years

Cooper Hefner
Hefner says he's not a "career politician," but felt moved "to do more."
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Cooper Hefner, son of late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, has announced his bid to represent California’s 30th District in the state’s Senate. Hefner will be running as a Democrat with a progressive policy platform for the seat currently filled by Democrat Holly J. Mitchel.

“For as long as I can remember I have had a deep interest in how our government institutions work, have been fascinated with discussing and defining morality, and have always been interested in people and relationships,” Hefner told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview announcing his candidacy. “I believe I’ve been passionate for much of my life about serving the public; however, it took me a great deal of time to figure out how I would go about doing that.”

In the past few years, Hefner has departed the family business in favor of exploring that interest in public service, a passion that has seen the former Playboy heir serve in the United States Air Force Reserves, engage with various non-profits, and serve on the board of Chapman University. Hefner’s growing political interests have become apparent in recent months as the he’s taken to Twitter to comment on issues including the Supreme Court’s decision on DACA and the United States’ deteriorating relationship with the World Health Organization.

“I am concerned about my community and our government institutions, now more than ever before,” said Hefner. “The last several years I have asked myself, ‘What more can I do for others?’”

However, the candidate was clear to differentiate between his political interests and those of a career politician. “I’m not engaging in this to be a career politician. I’m not walking down this road to serve myself,” he told THR. Amid mounting concern for the current state of affairs in the US, “I felt compelled to do more,” said Hefner. “It became clear that working to serve the public good and engaging in delivering innovative solutions to the complex problems facing our communities was the right road for me.”

And while going from Playboy to public service may seem like a pretty far fall from the tree, Hefner sees his career pivot as very much in line with the legacy of free speech and activism his father forged at the magazine.

“Leaving the boardroom to fight alongside neighbors for a better future isn’t a far departure from what he spent his time here doing,” Hefner said of the late Playboy founder. “I’m sure he would be tremendously proud of this pursuit if he were here and relate on a deep level to the pivot of wanting to help the marginalized and be involved directly in the community.”

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