Cooper Bradford Hefner, the youngest son of the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, launched his campaign on July 13 to run for a 2022 California State Senate seat. He is running as a Democrat in California’s 30th State Senate district, which covers parts of Los Angeles County and the eastern Simi Hills of Ventura County, CNN reported.
Hefner unveiled his exploratory campaign in a video posted to Twitter:
I launched a California State Senate Exploratory Campaign because it is time for more young leaders to focus on the future. pic.twitter.com/eZx715d6JK
— Cooper Hefner (@cooperhefner) July 13, 2020
According to the Wall Street Journal, the 28-year-old started to work for Playboy Enterprises Inc. when he was in college. In early 2016, Hefner, who disagreed with the leadership of then CEO Scott Flanders, left the company in protest, the New York Post reported. But he quickly returned as the company’s chief creative officer when his father stepped down in July 2016.
Before leaning into politics, he was planning on launching his own media startups after he left Playboy in 2019, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He instead joined the Air Force Reserve later that year, putting his media career on hold.
The 30th State Senate district seat is currently held by Democrat Holly Mitchell, who ran unopposed in 2018 after winning a special election in 2013 and re-election in 2014 and 2016, according to Ballotpedia. Mitchell is currently seeking a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in November 2020, according to Deadline. If Mitchell wins, a special election will be held for her seat the first quarter of 2021, the news site reported. If she loses and stays in the Senate for her full final term — she is termed out, according to her communications director — the regular election will be held in 2022.
Here’s what you need to know about his political views:
1. Hefner Is a Liberal & Is Running As a Democrat
Long before jumping into the political ring, Hefner already declared himself as a liberal. In a 2017 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Hefner said he was a liberal and had “a real issue with the conservative side feeling like they own the military.”
He had progressive views towards nudity during his time at Playboy, according to Newsweek, and left the company in 2016 because he disagreed with the decision to remove nudity from the magazine’s pages, Newsweek reported. He also introduced the first-ever transgender model in Playboy history, according to the New York Times.
The Playboy heir told LA Weekly he came from a family of liberals and was a firm believer in the First Amendment just like his dad. He was concerned that political correctness would keep people from having debates, he told the newspaper:
A real concern of mine, Art, is that we live in a time that’s way too politically correct. Nobody wants to debate anymore. One of the reasons why I respect my dad so much was that he fought for the First Amendment. He spent his life fighting for freedom of the press, freedom of expression.
He expressed interest in politics back in 2016 and said he almost ran for Congress as a Democrat, LA Weekly reported. Four years later, he’s launching an exploratory campaign to run for the California State Senate, saying he’s “committed to building a safer and stronger California.”
2. Hefner Dislikes President Donald Trump & Has Spoken Out Against Him
“We don’t respect the guy,” Cooper Hefner told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017 when he spoke of Trump and his presidency. He also said that there was a “personal embarrassment” because the president had been on Playboy’s cover in 1990, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Cooper Hefner called out Trump publicly several times. In a 2017 interview with MSNBC, he compared the president’s comments on the campaign trail with Harvey Weinstein’s now-convicted sexual assaults, saying it was “an abuse of power.”
Weinstein and Trump are personality proof points that masculinity is in a state of crisis.
— Cooper Hefner (@cooperhefner) October 15, 2017
He also expressed his “distaste” for Trump’s presidency in another interview with Cheddar, which he posted to Twitter, and described the president’s decision about DACA as “absurd.”
3. Hefner Is Jumping Into Politics Because He ‘Felt Compelled To Do More,’ He Says
When Hefner joined the Air Force Reserve in 2019, he said he would be “stepping towards greater service to community and country.” In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he said he’s been passionate about serving the public for a long time:
The last several years I have asked myself, ‘What more can I do for others?’ For me, that answer manifested in working with local and national NGO’s to develop organizational strategy and as of last year serving as an Airman in the United States Air Force Reserve; however, I felt compelled to do more. 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.
With no prior political experience, Hefner said he is determined to build a brighter future for the state and the country, according to his campaign materials. His campaign website says that the current government fails to serve and protect its people, and Californians and Americans are being left behind. Hefner lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Scarlett Byrne Hefner. They were married in November 2019 are expecting their first child in 2020, according to a March tweet by the Playboy heir.
4. Hefner Says He Is Most Concerned With the Public Health Crisis in His State
One of the most pressing issues that Americans face now is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and Hefner told the Hollywood Reporter he’s also most concerned about the public health crisis. He calls for more funding for hospitals and making more medical resources available to lower-income residents on his campaign website. He also promises to provide publicly funded education for people aspiring to be healthcare professionals and “loan forgiveness” for those who are already working in the field, according to the website.
Hefner is against “a militarized show of force” and says his public safety reform will put law enforcement under more scrutiny and propose funding for community mediation services, his campaign website states. He also supports immigration and says the current system “is cruel and unjust and is in contradiction to the pillars of the American dream,” the campaign says.
His campaign agenda also addresses issues such as employment, housing and homelessness and climate change.
5. Hefner Has Pressed the Flesh With High-Profile Democratic Politicians
Hefner has been active in politics over the past several years. He has voiced support for former vice president and current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He co-hosted a reception for him in Los Angeles last year and hosted a fundraiser for Democratic U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a former presidential candidate, in 2019, the HuffPost reported.
He spoke to the Hollywood Reporter recently about his support for Biden leading into November:
I’m attracted to leadership that is defined by finding our commonalities versus politicizing our differences. Vice President Biden and those working for him have created an inclusive policy platform. That’s worth supporting, particularly now.
He has also made political donations to a number of Democratic politicians in 2019, including Biden, Harris and Pete Buttigieg, according to Federal Elections Commission records.