Friday, April 17, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Big changes coming in Congress

TomEliasW

By
From page A10 | June 21, 2013 |

California saw plenty of change to its congressional delegation last year, with the long-serving likes of Fortney “Pete” Stark (East Bay area), David Dreier (San Dimas), Jerry Lewis (Redlands), Joe Baca (San Bernardino County), Elton Gallegly (Simi Valley), Mary Bono Mack (Palm Springs) and more either retiring or getting turned out.

For most of their veteran colleagues remaining, re-election seems all but certain. Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House and current Democratic minority leader, hasn’t had a serious challenger since essentially inheriting her San Francisco-based seat in 1987 on the death of Sala Burton, who had taken it over from her husband, Phil Burton, a liberal lion and legendary master of gerrymandering.

But Pelosi is 73 and her age probably will see her out of Congress before another decade goes by.

In that way, Pelosi is pretty typical of the state’s 53-member delegation, replete with sexagenarians and septuagenarians.

Just look at the solidly Democratic districts stretching hundreds of miles south from Pelosi’s turf: Jackie Speier, 63, of San Mateo; Anna Eshoo, 70, of Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, 65, whose district reaches from San Jose to Gilroy; Mike Honda, 71, of San Jose, Sam Farr, 71, of Monterey County; and Lois Capps, 75, of Santa Barbara County.

Of that aging group, only Capps had a serious challenge last year, but still pretty easily fended off Republican Abel Maldonado, the former appointive lieutenant governor.

Any of them could draw a challenge at any time, as did Stark, a 40-year congressional veteran from Alameda County who at 80 was the dean of California’s delegation until he was surprised by a primary challenge from 31-year-old Eric Swalwell, a Dublin City Councilman who 10 years earlier was an intern for former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. Swalwell won the all-Democrat November runoff by a narrow 52-48 percent margin.

Already, Honda is being challenged by a former deputy national trade representative, Rho Khanna, 37, who drew a crowd of major Silicon Valley players to one recent $2,600-per-person fundraiser.

No one can be sure what other upstarts may be lurking in the weeds to take on senior-citizen incumbents south of Pelosi or elsewhere, like Doris Matsui of Sacramento, 68; Howard (Buck) McKeon, a 74-year-old Santa Clarita Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee; San Diego Democrat Susan Davis, 69; 73-year-old Henry Waxman of West Los Angeles and the South Bay suburbs; or 68-year-old former Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who won by only about 8 percent last year over a previously obscure Republican challenger.

One thing all these folks should have learned last year is that the state’s three-year-old top-two primary election system makes seats that once could be considered safe for decades quite a bit shakier.

Stark, for example, most likely would still be in Congress, but for that system, which puts the top two finishers in the primary election into the November runoff election, regardless of party. No Republican could have beaten him in his district, but a fellow Democrat did.

If that didn’t put other incumbents on notice, what happened to Baca surely did. He also lost to a fellow Democrat, Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino, herself 71.

That race illustrated that state legislators subject to term limits won’t always be content to leave office and retire or look for a real-world job when they are termed out: Some will try for Congress. Which means few in Congress can be sanguine, almost all having to look over their shoulders as long as they serve.

Which means the still-pretty-new primary system is achieving one unanticipated benefit: It is keeping incumbent politicians on their toes more than they ever before needed to be. It’s too soon, of course, to know whether than means they’ll accomplish more than previously.

Chances are congressional shakeups won’t be as striking in any one election year over the next decade as they were last year, when top-two’s debut combined with newly drawn district lines to create unprecedented instability and 14 new members of Congress.

But Democrats already are eyeing the districts of Republican Congressmen Jeff Denham of Modesto and Gary Miller of Rancho Cucamonga.

“The party apparatus will begin to focus on these races in earnest very shortly,” said Eric Bauman, the Democrats’ state vice chairman.

But the most change is likely to come from districts already occupied by Democratic veterans, none of whom has voiced any intentions of stepping down. Not to worry, when they do, plenty of younger folks will be waiting to replace them.

And if the old-timers don’t get out of the way on their own, at least some of those ambitious potential replacements are sure not to simply wait their turns, but — like Swalwell — pounce on their own where they see an opening.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at [email protected]

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

     
    It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Turning a mess into olive oil success

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    UCD expands emergency notification service

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

    California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Local students to perform at fundraising concert

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    CA House hosts crepe breakfast

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    See pups at Picnic Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Davis poet will read his work at library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

     
    Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Socks collected for homeless veterans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Emerson featured at photography program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Sign up soon for Davis history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Survival skills to be taught at preserve

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    The new one puts her foot down

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Know where your gift is going

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Pipeline veto a good move

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Artists offer heartfelt thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

     
    It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Future leaders give back

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    .

    Sports

    Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DHS boys drop another Delta League match

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Herd has too much for Devil softballers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    River Cats fall to Las Vegas

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

    .

    Arts

    ‘True Story:’ In their dreams

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    ‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Robert Leigh Cordrey

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B10