Top 5 Most Influential Californians in Congress

Top 5 Most Influential Californians in Congress

California is a huge state, and nowhere is that more evident than in the sheer size of its Congressional delegation of 53 members. Nearly one in twelve members of the House of Representatives is from the Golden State!  

In case you are wondering which of these members has the most influence in Congress, here, from my perspective, in alphabetical order, are the top five: 

Representative Darrell Issa (Republican, CA-49: First Elected in 2001): Issa is perhaps the highest profile chairman the Government Oversight Committee has ever seen. While the IRS scandal has been the most recent and prominent of the issues his committee has taken up, the list is long: Fast and Furious, Obamacare, Benghazi, the Postal Service, and so many more. Issa is a regular fixture on television–and is nationally identified as a strong, articulate voice for the House committee charged with looking into what our own government is up to. Here in California, Issa spearheaded and was the driving force behind the movement that led to the recall of Governor Gray Davis in 2003. Fascinating Facts: Issa founded a successful car-alarm company and is now one of the wealthiest Members of Congress. 

Representative Kevin McCarthy (Republican, CA-25: First Elected 2006): Recently elected by his GOP colleagues to the position of Majority Leader, McCarthy is without doubt the most influential California Republican on Capitol Hill. McCarthy’s rise to such prominence in such a short period of time is testament to his adeptness at the art of politics.  McCarthy, possibly the most political member of a political institution (that’s saying something), has a reputation for not being policy-oriented, engaging in policy matters more through a political lens than anything else. This is a Congressman who devotes much of his time cultivating personal relationships with fellow Members of Congress–he is known for his having studied the biographies and interests of them all. Fascinating Facts: McCarthy is the former head of both the state and national Young Republican organizations, and still pays quite a bit of attention to those groups.   

Representative Tom McClintock (Republican, CA-4: First Elected 2008): California has only one truly iconic conservative leader in public office today, and that is Tom McClintock.  No matter where you are in the state, if you survey GOP voters, McClintock scores incredibly high. It’s no surprise that he is the single most sought-after endorsement in GOP primaries up and down California. McClintock built up a following during his 22 years in the State Legislature, and through numerous campaigns for statewide office. If you look at the scorecards of various conservative groups such as the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Freedomworks, McClintock constantly scores as the most conservative Californian. Fascinating Facts: McClintock, a gifted orator, can often be heard quoting Sir Winston Churchill from memory, and can give tours of the United States Capitol with more detailed information than most tour guides. 

Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, CA-12: First elected in 1987):  As the Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House, Pelosi wields a strong influence in Congress–especially with a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate. On more than a few occasions issues have come to the House floor where Republicans have not been united, and Pelosi has been able to seize on those infrequent opportunities to control outcomes. While Speaker (from 2007 until 2011) Pelosi pushed a number of progressive, liberal policies through the House and ultimately into law.  None is more well known, of course, than Obamacare, where Pelosi gets credit for personally persuading many of her Democratic colleagues in very tough districts to “hang in there” and vote for the controversial legislation–in many cases costing those members their seats in Congress. Fascinating Facts: Nancy Pelosi owns two wineries, and her favorite breakfast food is ice cream. 

Representative Edward Royce (CA-39: First elected in 1992): There are only so many Members of Congress who “get it” when it comes to a lot of the complex financial issues that Congress delves into, which makes Royce an invaluable asset on the Financial Services Committee. But he has risen to the Chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee because of his almost encyclopedic knowledge and understanding or world affairs, burnished with his strong believe that U.S. Foreign policy must serve the just interest of our nation. At a time when we have a President who is weak in the international arena, Royce’s opportunity for influence is high. One of the leading fundraisers in the House, Royce has been a leader at the National Republican Congressional Committee. Fascinating Facts:  In 1976 Royce was a state leader in the Youth For Reagan Campaign. And, oh yes, when he was first elected to Congress I worked for him for a while!