Of Orange County’s four new members of Congress, only Representative Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) says he will oppose Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker of the House on Wednesday.
Cisneros, a former Navy officer who won a $266 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot shortly after being laid off as a Frito-Lay plant manager in 2010, is also the only OC congressional freshman who opposed Pelosi’s speakership bid while on the campaign trail.
Representatives Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) on Nov. 15 became the first OC freshman to formally support Pelosi retaking the speaker’s gavel when the Democratic caucus votes behind closed doors Wednesday to fill leadership positions.
Porter was at her Irvine campaign headquarters for her first public appearance since barely defeating Representative Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) when the incoming congresswoman said, “I’m going to continue to have conversations, but so far I feel like Leader Pelosi is definitely making the things that were a priority to the families that elected me her priorities, including announcing her support for campaign finance reform and anti-corruption as HR1.”
Porter, a UC Irvine law professor who specializes in consumer protection, continued of Pelosi: “It means a lot to me that she is a Californian. She understands our state. When we talk about environmental protections, this is a person who understands as a Californian how fragile our environment is and what’s at risk in things like drilling off our coasts.”
While Porter was addressing her 45th District volunteers and supporters, Levin was issuing a joint letter with another freshman, Representative Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce), who both praised Pelosi as “bold, pragmatic and capable of swift results.”
Added Levin, who defeated former Dana Point mayor and state legislator Diane Harkey for the 49th District seat abandoned by Representative Darrell Issa (R-Vista), and Hill, who dispensed with Representative Steve Knight (R-Palmdale): “During this turbulent time in our nation’s history, no one is better prepared to lead a diverse Democratic caucus. We need her stability, vision and strength. Let’s unite. Let’s move forward. Let’s make change happen, together.”
Representative Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) waited until Nov. 20 to issue a statement that simply began, “I will cast my vote for Nancy Pelosi.”
The Surfin’ Congressman slayer had previously said as late as Nov. 2 that, “My first goal is to defeat Dana Rohrabacher. If I’m successful in that, I’ll do appropriate due diligence as to who I believe should be the leader of the speaker.”
Rouda did just that, according to the rest of his later statement: “Throughout my campaign for Congress, I promised that I would take great care and due diligence when it came to my support for a Democratic candidate for speaker. After weeks of information gathering and assessment, I am keeping that promise. I have concluded that Nancy Pelosi is the most qualified candidate. Her experience and knowledge of the issues and of the congressional landscape are unequaled. Her support for a defined leadership succession plan and the mentoring of younger leaders played a key part in my decision as well. Thirdly, the Democratic Party stands ready to make history once again, by re-electing the first woman to ever serve as speaker of the House.”
Rouda added that he looks forward to working with Pelosi and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) “on legislation that benefits the hardworking families of California’s 48th District, as well as constituents from coast to coast.”
The Cisneros statement that went out Monday afternoon reads, “Throughout my campaign, I have emphasized the importance of bringing new leadership to Congress and how the need for change was a motivating factor in my decision to run. I have also maintained that bringing change not only applies to Washington Republicans, but also taking a look within the Democratic Party. I have tremendous respect for Nancy Pelosi, and I believe she has been a fearless advocate for her district, Californians, and our country. She is responsible for some of our party’s greatest achievements, and I am thankful for her leadership. The people of the 39th District made it clear, however, that they want to see real change in Washington, and I intend to follow through on my commitment to support new leadership. Our Democratic caucus is comprised of many dedicated individuals who are more than capable of leading our party and the House of Representatives into the future.”
What’s interesting is the timing of the statement. The time stamp in my inbox was hours after national media outlets had reported that the movement to prevent Pelosi from becoming speaker appeared dead.
Congressional watchers had previously surmised that Pelosi would craft an election that would ensure her victory while also giving cover to a few members who campaigned against her so they could keep their promises to supporters.
Cisneros barley beat Republican Young Kim for the seat abandoned by her old boss Representative Ed Royce (R-Brea). Flip-flopping on Pelosi now could resurface as a campaign issue in 2020 in the very purple 39th. That’s likely why he was chosen to announce his opposition to Pelosi–with a heaping helping of words praising her, of course.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.