Washington (CNN) – Sandra Fluke, the women’s rights activist who rose to stardom during the debate over Obamacare’s contraception coverage, tells CNN she is “strongly considering” running for Congress now that Rep. Henry Waxman is retiring from his California House seat.
“I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate, especially for Rep. Waxman's seat, considering his incredible legacy,” Fluke, 32, said in a statement. “A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run.”
She added, “I am strongly considering running. I’ll be making my decision soon.”
Fluke’s announcement comes just hours after Waxman, a Democrat who has served in Congress for 40 years, decided he would not run for reelection in November. The congressman said he was retiring because it is “time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark, ideally someone who is young enough to make the long-term commitment that’s required for real legislative success.”
Fluke was a Georgetown law student in 2012 when Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and “prostitute” after she urged a Democratic congressional panel for more coverage of contraceptives in Obamacare - President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare law. Her testimony came after a Republican panel barred her from testifying on the issue, despite Democrats asking for her inclusion.
The slur set off a firestorm and Fluke was quickly catapulted to stardom. Obama called Fluke to express his support for her, and a flood of advertisers pledged to take their business elsewhere because of Limbaugh’s comments. Two radio stations also dropped the controversial yet powerful conservative radio host.
In response to Limbaugh, Fluke told CNN in 2012 that she felt “initially hurt and then very quickly upset and outraged because somebody is trying to silence you."
The controversy led to Fluke speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, where she stressed equal pay for women and contraceptive coverage.
“I’m honored to be standing at this podium. It easily could have been any one of you,” she said. “I’m here because I spoke out, and this November each of us must do the same.”
Should she choose to run, Fluke would be vying for a reliably blue and wealthy district that covers part of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan political handicapping group, lists the district as “solid Democrat.”