Rep. Adam Schiff (D)
California 29th District
In the early part of the 20th century, when Los Angeles was growing rapidly and on its way to becoming one of America’s major cities, its richest citizens settled not on the beach (too clammy and cold) or on the west side (too dusty and remote), but in communities they built at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Their snow-capped peaks, rising 10,000 feet above the city, are visible most of the year. The place to be was Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl, Cal Tech, and a baroque-domed city hall. Pasadena and South Pasadena have carefully preserved their bungalow neighborhoods, and Pasadena preserved and rebuilt the 80-year-old curving Colorado Boulevard Bridge over Arroyo Seco. More middle class is Glendale, north of downtown Los Angeles, site of Forest Lawn Cemetery and DreamWorks Animation. To the west, beneath the Verdugo Mountains, is Burbank, the “media capital of the world” as the headquarters for NBC Studios, ABC Studios, Warner Brothers, and Disney, plus many small entertainment and multimedia companies. With their lower taxes and business-friendly attitude, Glendale and Burbank were booming before the nationwide recession struck in 2007 and 2008. To reduce traffic congestion, planners are exploring a lengthy tunnel to link the freeways in South Pasadena and Pasadena.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 29th Congressional District of California includes Pasadena, South Pasadena, Glendale, and the eastern half of Burbank. Historically, these were solidly Republican cities, but they have become more Democratic in recent years, for various reasons—Pasadena because of the cultural liberalism of affluent voters and the Democratic preference of the growing black community; Glendale because of large communities of Armenians (the nation’s largest), Iranians, Koreans, and Filipinos; and Burbank from the trendiness of show business. The district also includes, south of South Pasadena, cities with large Asian populations: Vietnamese in San Gabriel and Chinese in Alhambra, Temple City, and the northern edge of Monterey Park (which the locals call Little Taipei). This is a polyglot district—24% Hispanic, 26% Asian, 11% Armenian, and 6% African-American. It has become solidly Democratic, casting only 37% of its votes for President Bush in 2004 and 30% for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D)
Elected: 2000, 5th term.
Born: June 22, 1960, Framingham, MA .
Education: Stanford U., B.A. 1982; Harvard U., J.D. 1985.
Family: Married (Eve); 2 children.
Elected office: CA Senate, 1996-00.
Professional Career: Prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Gen. Ofc., L.A., CA 1987-93; Practicing atty., 1986-87, 1995-96.
The congressman from the 29th District is Adam Schiff, a Democrat elected in 2000. Schiff’s father was a traveling salesman and later owned a lumberyard. Schiff grew up throughout the country, eventually graduating from high school in Northern California. He went on to Stanford University and Harvard Law School. From 1987 to 1993, he worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. He ran for the California Assembly and lost three times. But in 1996, he was elected to the state Senate, where he became its youngest member. In his first two years, he authored dozens of measures that Republican Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law, including a bill guaranteeing up-to-date textbooks in classrooms and another reforming the child-support system. Schiff also taught political science at Glendale Community College.
|Adam Schiff (D)||146,198||(69%)||($909,396)|
|Charles Hahn (R)||56,727||(27%)||($76,097)|
|Alan Pyeatt (Lib)||9,219||(4%)|
|Adam Schiff (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (63%), 2004 (65%), 2002 (63%), 2000 (53%)
Schiff ran for the House in the first election following the impeachment of President Clinton, and the issue became a factor in a number of races in 2000. Schiff challenged incumbent Republican James Rogan, who was a leader in the Judiciary Committee’s deliberations and a persuasive voice for the case against Clinton. Rogan had won re-election in 1998 by just 51%-46%, and Clinton pal and entertainment mogul David Geffen was promising to raise millions of dollars to oppose him. The Schiff-Rogan race became a fundraising marathon, and was then the most expensive House race on record. The candidates raised more than $10 million combined, and much more was spent independently by Clinton’s supporters as well as his detractors.
In addition to their opposing positions on Clinton’s impeachment, the candidates disagreed on health care, abortion rights, gun control, and taxes. Rogan branded his opponent as a traditional tax-and-spend liberal, who would “run naked through the Treasury, spending everything he can.” Schiff attacked Rogan for calling abortion a Holocaust for the African-American community. And he said Rogan’s focus on Washington led him to ignore local problems. The two also battled for the support of more than 67,000 local Armenians. Rogan was a lead sponsor of a House resolution commemorating Armenians who died in the genocide from 1915 to 1923 by the Ottoman Turks, and Schiff got the state of California to spend $400,000 to produce a documentary about Armenian issues. Schiff won by an unexpectedly large 53%-44% vote, and has been easily re-elected since.
In the House, Schiff’s voting record has been moderate, especially on foreign policy. He joined the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats, and has sometimes worked across party lines. He was instrumental on bipartisan legislation that was enacted making identity theft a crime. And on a bill to implement recommendations of the 9/11 commission, he was the only Democrat voting with Judiciary Committee Republicans on added immigration restrictions. The final bill included his provisions to establish new penalties for developing a “dirty bomb,” and to give new tools to law enforcement to crack down on weapons of mass destruction.
Schiff stirred complaints from liberal constituents when he supported the resolution approving the use of force in Iraq in 2002 and for voting for the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism law giving law enforcement broad new powers. But he also has been a solid party activist, contributing to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s re-election efforts by co-chairing a mentoring program for prime candidates. Schiff also took the lead in writing a Democratic resolution in 2007 to urge the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after several U.S. attorneys around the country were fired in what critics charged was a political purge. His contribution to congressional ethics reform was a bill, passed by the House in July 2007, preventing lawmakers from placing their spouses on campaign payrolls.
As the co-founder of a Democratic study group on national security, Schiff has focused especially on legislation to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere to keep them out of the hands of terrorists. In 2007, he sponsored a bill creating a worldwide data bank on nuclear material. He has continued to press the cause for recognition of the Armenian genocide as the responsibility of the Ottoman Empire, a move Turkey adamantly opposes. His resolution was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2007, but he agreed to postpone further action after a strong reaction from Turkey. It threatened to deny the U.S. military access to its strategically vital Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Some of Schiff’s legislative allies backed away from their support after Turkey’s threat. With seats on both the Intelligence and Appropriations committees, Schiff in July 2008 launched an effort to increase foreign aid to Jordan.