Retiring Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis (right) has served in the House since 1979.
You might call it musical chairs, that time in the political calendar when members of Congress make their move up the leadership ladder. But the turnover of more than a dozen California seats in the House means going to the back of the seniority line.
In some ways, nothing’s changed for California. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer still chair key Senate committees. But the real power shift is in the House, where citizen-drawn district lines led to competitive races. California lost 14 incumbents and with them, astoundingly, nearly 300 years of service on the Hill.
Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says losing seniority means losing members in strong leadership positions, "often chairmanships or ranking positions in committees that matter." He says, normally, you'd see some reduction in the clout of a state. "But in a state like California, which has more members than anybody else, which is going to get members on every single panel so that they can effectively argue the case, it’s not as dramatic as it might sound."
California can still claim both the House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy, and the Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi. Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita still chairs the House Armed Services Committee; Darrell Issa of Temecula heads Oversight and Government Reform.
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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a political action committee that is pouring big sums of cash into races around the country, including an Inland Empire Congressional contest.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a busy man these days. But before Hurricane Sandy hit, he launched a political action committee that has dropped $2.5 million on last minute ads and mailers in an Inland Empire Congressional race.
Bloomberg’s political action committee, Independence USA, started spending money in Southern California a week ago, with $65 thousand on mailers supporting Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod. She’s trying to unseat a fellow Democrat, incumbent Congressman Joe Baca in Ontario.
Day by day, more PAC money arrived. And then this week, more than $2.3 million for TV ads was reported by Bloomberg’s PAC to the Federal Election Commission.
The ad accuses Baca of siding with polluters and voting for a "dirty water bill." That bill was a GOP measure the League of Conservation Voters described as a “blatant assault” on the Clean Water Act. It passed the House, including a vote from Baca, but died in the Senate.