By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
27th District: Adam Schiff
This is the big one. The race between incumbent Republican James Rogan, the most zealous of Bill Clinton’s prosecutors in last year’s impeachment trial, and Democratic state Senator Adam Schiff is both a belated referendum on Clinton’s impeachers and, for that reason, the single most costly race for a House seat in the history of the Republic. When it’s all over, Rogan will likely have spent $7 million, raised in part from Clinton-haters everywhere, and Schiff $4.5 million, raised in part from Democrats still steamed over the House Republicans’ impeachment travesty of justice.
On top of that, the race is one of three hotly contested House elections in L.A. County that could just well determine which party controls the next session of Congress. This question takes on a particular urgency in light of the possibility that the Republicans could win the trifecta on election day — taking the White House, holding the Senate and the House. At the moment, the Democrats’ best shot is probably in the House, which is why the national parties have also poured money into this very close race.
Democrat Schiff, a former criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has represented most of this Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena district in the state Senate for the past four years, where he’s authored and steered to enactment some notable consumer, labor and environmental legislation. He’s played a key role in the fight to spare the Glendale hills from overdevelopment. He’s our clear choice over Jim Rogan. But let’s be straight about this: Anyone selected at random off the streets would be our clear choice over Jim Rogan.
The issue isn’t just that Rogan represents this increasingly Democratic and nonwhite district with a voting record suitable to Orange County in the ’50s. It isn’t just that he opposes a woman’s right to choose, or restrictions on tobacco companies, or campaign-finance reform, or linking trade treaties to a minimum standard for worker rights and environmental safeguards (all policies that Schiff supports). Nor is it just that he masquerades as a moderate in his district, when in fact he’s a right-wing zealot on the Hill.
The real issue, of course, is Rogan’s starring role in the impeachment farce that he and his colleagues inflicted on the nation. As one of the most rabid members of the House Judiciary Committee, Rogan argued to release even more salacious material than Henry Hyde was willing to put on the Internet and to call more witnesses than anyone else wanted. Few people are more responsible for putting the country through this avoidable partisan jihad than Rogan. He does not deserve to sit in Congress, or any other body that requires of its members a scintilla of good judgment and sense.
29th District: Henry Waxman
Veteran Westside Congressman Henry Waxman remains the legislative genius of American liberalism, with an amazing ability during his 26 years in Congress to get bills extending health care, cleaning up the air and water, and regulating tobacco through Republican Congresses and signed by Republican presidents (a skill he may have to call upon again in the coming term). But really, all you need to know about Waxman is this: At the Green Party’s national convention this summer, a reporter asked Ralph Nader during a press conference to list three things he liked about America. Thing number two (after the First Amendment and before the nation’s system of tort law) was Henry Waxman.
30th District: Xavier Becerra
In his eight years in Congress, Becerra has consistently been one of the most progressive members of the House and — after numerous battles for immigrants’ rights — has increasingly become one of its more accomplished members as well. Should the Democrats retake the House, Becerra may become one of the subcommittee chairs on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. This would be excellent news for people concerned about public policy, and for people concerned about next spring’s mayoral election.
Since spring, Becerra has been waging an altogether bizarre candidacy for mayor. To call this effort a long shot would be too kind. The only conceivable effect of his candidacy is, by splitting the Latino vote, to keep Assembly speaker emeritus and mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa — who’s even more progressive and accomplished than Becerra — from making it into the mayoral run-off.
So if the Democrats retake the House — a very good thing in itself — Becerra could just decide to stay in D.C., banging a gavel and writing good legislation. For L.A. liberals, that would be a happy ending all around.
31st District: Hilda Solis
The real election in the 31st came in the March Democratic primary, when state Senator Hilda Solis did the unheard of: She ran against and unseated a longtime congressional incumbent from her own party. That incumbent was Marty Martinez, who has since become a Republican.
For the past six years, Hilda Solis has been as bright a light in the state Senate as Martinez has been a dim bulb in the House. She authored a bill raising the state minimum wage, and, when Pete Wilson vetoed it, she provided out of her own campaign treasury the seed money for the initiative campaign in which state voters authorized the raise. She authored the pioneering Environmental Justice Act, which gives the state the authority to review proposed new developments in communities already home to a number of polluting projects. She was the staunchest champion imaginable of workers’ rights, gun control and choice. She’ll make a terrific member of Congress.
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