Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Another Californian rises in House leadership

Mercer 1538

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congressman Xavier Becerra in front of Capitol. His fellow Democrats have chosen him to serve as their Caucus Chairman, moving him to the #4 power position in the House of Representatives.

LA Congressman Xavier Becerra took a step up in Capitol Hill leadership this morning.

His fellow House Democrats elected him as their new Caucus Chairman.

Becerra says the job is similar to that of a member of Congress. "Just as I have to represent 700 thousand people in my Congressional district," he says, "I now have to represent 200 Democrats in the House and do everything possible to make sure that they do well."

The move means Becerra becomes the number four Democrat in the House.

California also claims the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the number three Republican, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the GOP House Whip.

Read More...

Californians in House leadership: one keeps his post, another hopes to move up

Congressman Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles is asking his colleagues to make him the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House.

Republican Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield was re-elected as House Majority Whip.


Now that Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to stay on as House Democratic leader, other party members are assessing their standing. On Wednesday, another Californian formally launched his campaign to move up the leadership ladder. 

L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra is currently the fifth-ranking Democrat in the House. Now he’s sent a formal letter to colleagues, throwing his hat in the ring for the number four spot — Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Becerra says relationships are the key to advancement: "It’s developing the friendships that let you get to the  point where you can actually ask for a vote."

Becerra has several things going for him: Pelosi is one of his biggest fans. And a quarter of the freshman Democratic class comes from his home state. "The more Californians there are," says Becerra, "the greater opportunity I have to try to have them be with me, supportive of me."

Read More...

Pelosi mum on leadership role; introduces Democratic freshmen

There are still two undecided Congressional races in California. But even without those, there are nearly a dozen new members of Congress from the Golden State. The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, introduced her party’s new crop Tuesday in Washington D.C.

Pelosi filled the stage with new Democrats...and they kept spilling out of the green room. Pelosi welcomed several by name, including Ventura Congresswoman-elect Julia Brownley. 

Californians make up a quarter of the freshman class of Democrats. Pelosi had hoped to win a few more seats in California to retake the House, and the Speakership, but the GOP still outnumbers Democrats by about 18 members. She told reporters, "we may not have the majority, we may not have the gavel.  But we have unity."

Two Republicans from California were elected to the House.

Read More...

The trickle-down effect of California campaign funding

Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack is in a tight re-election race, but that hasn't stopped her from making contributions to other candidates from her campaign fund and her political action committee.

US Representative from California Loretta Sanchez

Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez received a donation from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and then made a donation to another party candidate.


One steady source of income to Congressional campaigns in this election has been from current members. And they have lots of different ways to give.

Nancy Pelosi rose through the ranks to become the Democrats’ Congressional leader in part because of her fundraising prowess. In this election cycle, for example, she raised more than $2 million for her own campaign.

Sheila Krumholz, who heads the Center for Responsive Politics, says because Pelosi’s re-election is a lock, she can open up her purse strings: "She can then take that money to tithe to the party."

Pelosi can do this by contributing to the party's campaign arm for House members, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Krumholz says Pelosi will raise funds, "both from her campaign and from her leadership PAC. She will then support other colleagues, junior colleagues, struggling candidates for office."

Read More...

Follow the money in Palm Springs Congressional race

Raul Ruiz and Mary Bono-Mack

KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.

The Federal Elections Commission just released the latest report on campaign contributions.  It's mind numbing stuff.  But the numbers provide a snapshot of just which industries and individuals are willing to put up big dollars for candidates.

The 36th Congressional district in the Coachella Valley is currently held by eight-term Republican Mary Bono Mack. She's being challenged by a political novice, Democrat Raul Ruiz. Big money is being spent on this race.  So far, more than $3 million has been raised by the two candidates. In this past quarter, Ruiz took in $156,000 more than Bono Mack. 

Because Ruiz is an emergency room doctor, it's not surprising that most of the individual contributors to his campaign are medical professionals — surgeons, dentists, psychiatrists, even a veternarian. He's also gotten money from attorneys, Harvard professors (he's a Harvard grad), and real estate developers. Hollywood is represented: actress Valerie Bertinelli kicked in $2,500. A senior VP at Warner Brothers kicked in another thousand.

Read More...