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California billionaire Dan O’Dowd, founder and chief executive officer of Green Hills Software, launched his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
Courtesy of Dan O’Dowd for U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON This tech billionaire wants to take on Tesla — on the way to the United States Senate.
Dan O’Dowd, founder and chief executive officer of Green Hills Software, which builds operating services and programming tools for computer systems, announced his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
O’Dowd simultaneously launched a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign against Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology. The television advertisement, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” includes videos of Tesla’s self-driving car malfunctioning.
“Elon Musk is pushing Tesla’s defective Full Self-Driving technology, and it’s threatening people across the country. The government continues to allow Tesla to put unregulated, dangerous, and defective software on the street in the hands of 60,000 untrained drivers,” O’Dowd said in an announcement launching his campaign. “This is a public safety threat and Congress must take immediate action.”
While banning the full self-driving technology is his big-ticket issue, he says his main issue is to “make computers safe for humanity.” He is running as a Democrat.
O’Dowd challenges incumbent Sen. Alex Padilla, California’s former secretary of state who was tapped by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ seat when she assumed her White House role.
Padilla is favored to win by a long shot. But an intra-party rival in a flush billionaire could cost Padilla some needed votes in a crowded field of candidates.
Padilla will appear on the ballot twice this year: The first time is for a special election to finish this term. The second is for another six-year term starting in 2023. He has about $7.1 million on hand for his campaign, according to his most recent Federal Election Commission filing on March 31, 2022.
O’Dowd founded Green Hills Software with Carl Rosenberg in 1982 and has served as its president and CEO since.
Through Green Hills Software, O’Dowd has helped build operating systems for the likes of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Boeing, his campaign said. He founded The Dawn Project in 2021 to push for reliability and security in safety-critical computer systems. Its goal is to replace software in critical infrastructure to ensure it can neither fail nor be hacked.
A Dawn Project study of Tesla’s fully self-driving automobiles showed that they malfunction every 8 minutes on average in city driving.
“We did not sign up our families to be Tesla crash test dummies,” O’Dowd said.
O’Dowd graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1976 with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor that Caltech can bestow on a graduate. He lives with his wife in Santa Barbara; they have two grown sons.
This story was originally published April 20, 2022 8:00 AM.
Gillian Brassil is the congressional reporter for McClatchy’s California publications. She covers federal policies, people and issues that impact the Golden State from Capitol Hill. She graduated from Stanford University.
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