Rep. Ed Royce (R)
California 40th District
Orange County is the fifth-most-populous county in the United States, having grown steadily from 130,000 people in 1940, to nearly 2 million in 1980, to 3 million in 2007. It is now a community with the patina of maturity, and in some places an aging community, fraying around the edges. The county can no longer double its population, as it did for several decades when Disneyland sprung up on empty land and when orange groves and bean fields were transformed into subdivisions, shopping centers and office towers. Although developers have plans for a few more huge projects in the next decade, “We’re outta land,” a real estate analyst told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “We don’t have any dirt left.” Ranchers and farmers have given way to aerospace engineers. Until relatively recently, the communities of Orange County were mostly white and middle-class. The area has been transformed by its openness to economic and ethnic change. Its economy has been constantly reshaped by the inevitable upheavals of capitalism, and that pattern continues. Tourism remains key, but there is no single industry that is responsible for Orange County’s prosperity. The region was hit hard by the defense spending cutbacks and recession of the early 1990s but it bounced back, fueled by start-ups and small entrepreneurial successes not anticipated by government or corporate planners. Orange County was again wrocked by recession in 2008, when the hyperinflation of the local housing market abruptly burst and home values slid as much as 20% from 2007 levels.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Always Republican, Orange County became a symbol of conservatism, first in California and then nationally. This was a solid base for Ronald Reagan in his campaigns for governor and president. In 1988, the district’s 317,000-vote plurality for George H.W. Bush was his largest in any county in the nation. Orange County’s conservatism reflected a belief in technological progress and traditional values as unyielding as the mile-square grid that the county’s founders imposed on most of its land, and a belief in market economies that produced wonders such as the area’s advanced military technologies. Over the years, Orange County has become racially and ethnically more diverse. Contrary to the images presented in the television series The OC, the all-white Orange County stereotype is now thoroughly out of date, exemplified by the election in 2007 of the county’s first Vietnamese-American supervisor. In 2004, Orange County gave George W. Bush a 222,000-vote margin, well below his father’s margin 16 years before. The GOP advantage dwindled significantly in 2008, when John McCain prevailed over Barack Obama by only 29,500 votes.
The 40th Congressional District of California is located entirely in Orange County. At the geographic center is Fullerton, with 36,000 students at its own branch of California State University. The campus’s business school is the largest in the state. To the southwest are Buena Park, home of Knott’s Berry Farm, the earliest theme park (1940), plus Cypress, Los Alamitos, La Palma, Stanton, and parts of Garden Grove and Westminster. Southeast of Fullerton, the district includes most of Placentia, part of eastern Anaheim, and all of Villa Park and Orange, the district’s largest city. Overall, the 40th District is 34% Hispanic, 19% Asian (primarily Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino) and 2% African-American.
Rep. Ed Royce (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: Oct. 12, 1951, Los Angeles .
Education: CA State Fullerton, B.A. 1977.
Family: Married (Marie).
Elected office: CA Senate, 1982–92.
Professional Career: Tax mgr., 1979–82.
The congressman from the 40th District is Ed Royce, a Republican first elected in 1992. His lifetime almost precisely spans the area’s growth. He grew up in Fullerton and belonged to the conservative Young Americans for Freedom at Cal State Fullerton. He was later the head of Youth for Reagan in California during Reagan’s 1976 challenge to Gerald Ford. Royce worked several years as a tax and capital projects manager for a cement company. In 1982, a bunch of conservative state legislators known as the “Cave Men’’ took him to a Black Angus restaurant—no avocado-and-sprout sandwiches for them—and persuaded him to run for the state Senate. He won at age 31. When the Legislature refused to pass Royce’s bill allowing crime victims to object to trial delays, giving grand juries more power, and ending “jury-shopping,” he got the measure on the ballot as an initiative and it passed by a wide margin. He also wrote the first law making it a felony to stalk someone, allowing police more latitude to take action. In 1992, Royce ran for the U.S. House. With the blessing of Orange County Republican leaders, he was unopposed in the primary and easily won the general. He has been re-elected by wide margins ever since.
|Ed Royce (R)||144,923||(63%)||($1,172,942)|
|Christina Avalos (D)||86,772||(37%)|
|Ed Royce (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (67%), 2004 (68%), 2002 (68%), 2000 (63%), 1998 (63%), 1996 (63%), 1994 (66%), 1992 (57%)
In the House, Royce has a conservative voting record. He co-chaired the group of House “porkbusters,” risking other members’ wrath by opposing appropriations bills with dubious earmarks for individual lawmaker’s districts. In July 2005, he was among eight Republicans, and the only Californian, to vote against a highway bill packed with road, bridge, and dam projects. Royce’s proposal to ensure that nonprofit religious organizations have access to all necessary financial resources was a forerunner of President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative. On the Financial Services Committee, he has worked with Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., to expand lending authority for credit unions and to put them on an equivalent status with banks. With Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., in 2009, Royce proposed a federal regulator for insurance companies to replace the patchwork state regulatory system.
As chairman of the International Relations Subcommittee on Africa and an ardent free-trader, Royce was instrumental in enacting an Africa free-trade bill, teaming with House Ways and Means Committee senior Democrat Charles Rangel of New York. With legislative creativity, Royce helped steer the bill to enactment. When Congress expanded the president’s powers to negotiate free-trade agreements, Royce revised the bill to raise the cap on duty-free apparel imports from Africa. Although he had never set foot in Africa before he became chairman, Royce was widely praised for getting up to speed on issues affecting the continent. His other Africa-focused initiatives have included measures to encourage oil production, promote human rights, and condemn the genocide in Sudan.
In the minority, Royce is the ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, where he has focused on the spread of radical Islam. President Bush signed his bill establishing Radio Free Afghanistan as a tool in the fight against terrorism. In 2006, Royce won enactment of his bill to promote nuclear nonproliferation in North Korea. He has also urged stronger strategic and trade relationships between the United States and India.