Mr. Warshaw goes to Washington

The 326 train was just 15 minutes out of downtown Los Angeles when Nicky Warshaw’s cell phone rang. Warshaw ’05 was taking the 326 home to Claremont College as he did every Friday when he volunteers at Senator Barbara Boxer’s local office. Known as the “San Berdoo,” in recognition of the bedroom community it services, the Metrolink train has two decks and big purple-carpeted seats that cluster into groups of four.

Situated at his usual spot in the train’s far left hand corner, Warshaw picked up his sleek little Razor phone and made small talk for a minute or two with Adam Seiden, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

Actually, Warshaw has two little black Razor phones.  One, still currently somewhere in his pocket, is just for his own daily use.  The Los Angeles Democratic party reimburses him for all the bills accrued by his second cell phone, the one that was nestled up against his ear on that train just over a year ago today.

“We like to put up a Democratic candidate in every assembly district, whether we are going to win or lose,” Seiden told him.  “As you know, your district [at Claremont] is heavily conservative and a Democratic candidate is unlikely to win, so we’re looking for a candidate.”

Pecking away at his laptop in his rumpled blue blazer and khaki slacks, Warshaw nodded along and said, “Do you want me to help you find the candidate?”
“No,” Seiden told him.

By now it was almost dark out and the San Berdoo was somewhere in the region of Baldwin Park. 
The waning sun and shadows of downtown slunk away to the West as the train chased alongside the 10 East. Everything was moving so fast.

Seiden spoke again, his voice crinkling out of the little phone like the sound of tissue paper pulled tight around a birthday present.  “We want you to be the candidate,” he said.

“Candidate for what?” Warshaw asked.

“For state assembly.”

“Of what?”

“California.”

If Warshaw had taken Seiden up on his offer, he could have, at 18, been the youngest member of California state assembly ever, but he was certainly no stranger to state politics.  

The June before his senior year of high school, Warshaw worked in Boxer’s campaign office, where in just a few short months he became a serious player on her team. He decided to run for Political Director of the California College Democrats in April of his freshmen year, and once elected took on duties aimed to help turn out the voters on every college campus in the state. Warshaw said that when he was sitting on that train talking to Seiden the notion of being asked to run was “never a possibility to me, not at all.”

Warshaw said he sat there for a second in staggered silence and then, “I eventually answered.  He was like ‘so, would you be interested in something like that?’ and ‘I’m like I-I-I think…I mean, its really a lot a lot of work to run a campaign, even a losing campaign, especially as a candidate, and especially at 18.”

Because of this, after Warshaw ultimately decided not to embark on a campaign; however, Warshaw is back on the federal scene again,  interning for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through a program offered by his college. Selected from hundreds of applicants, Warshaw searched Craigslist for housing, where he found space for rent just a few blocks from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
He says that his time is primarily spent working on Pelosi’s scheduling, a burdensome task considering, as he put it, “basically everyone in the world wants to see her right now,” and he fields over a hundred requests a day. Warshaw added that despite having settled into his new routine, the surreal feeling of actually working on Capitol Hill has yet to wear off.

“The other day,” he said, “I’m sitting in the Speaker’s office reading the Washington Post when all of a sudden I look up and there’s the guy I’m reading about, standing right in front of me.”