Rep. Doris Matsui (D)
Elected: March 2005, 2nd full term.
Born: Sept. 25, 1944, Poston, AZ .
Education: U. of CA, B.A. 1966.
Religion: United Methodist.
Family: Widowed; 1 child.
Professional Career: Transition team, President-elect Bill Clinton, 1992-93; Dep. asst. to the pres., dep. dir. of public liaison, White House, 1993-98; Lobbyist, 1998-2005.
The congresswoman from the 5th District is Doris Matsui, who won a special election in March 2005 to replace her late husband, Democrat Robert Matsui. She was born in an Arizona internment camp and was a well-known political figure during her husband’s career in Congress. She grew up in Dinuba in Fresno County and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. In Sacramento, she chaired the board of the local public television station and participated in many civic organizations. After working on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, she joined his transition team and then served as deputy director of public liaison, where she worked on economic and budget issues. When she left the White House in 1998, she became a senior adviser at a Washington law firm. Robert Matsui died of complications from a rare blood disorder in January 2005, after serving 13 terms. He was a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a confidant to then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He and his family were among the Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps in 1942, when he was an infant; he was one of the lead sponsors of the 1988 Japanese-American redress law that apologized for the internment policy and provided monetary compensation for every survivor of the camps and for so-called “voluntary evacuees.”
|Doris Matsui (D)||164,242||(74%)||($889,113)|
|Paul Smith (R)||46,002||(21%)||($3,605)|
|L. R. Roberts (PF)||10,731||(5%)|
|Doris Matsui (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (71%)
A few days after the Washington and Sacramento memorial services for her husband, Doris Matsui announced that she would run in the special election. “People lose their spouses every day and make decisions about what they’ll do next. I’m no different than anyone else,” she said. With her strong support from Pelosi, other prominent Sacramento Democrats decided not to run. None of Matsui’s 10 opponents in the nonpartisan contest had significant political experience or name recognition. Matsui emphasized her support for local water projects and her opposition to President Bush’s proposal for personal retirement accounts in Social Security. She also opposed the war in Iraq. Her investment in a partnership with a longtime friend who was a Sacramento land developer sparked a brief flurry of criticism, but she emphasized that her husband had nothing to do with the deal while he was in office, and that there was no conflict of interest. Some called the contest a “coronation,” but the lack of competition surely reflected the respect the Matsuis had won over the years. She won the all-party primary with 68% of the vote to 9% for the runner-up.
In the House, she has a reliably liberal voting record. From her seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she tended to the many highway and water-resource needs of her district. Working with former Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., she expedited funding for flood control in flood-prone Sacramento, an issue with increased urgency following the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans in 2005. In 2007, she got House approval of a plan to improve the flood-protection plan of the Folsom Dam. She opposed a renewed push for the Auburn Dam as “not a politically viable option.”
Matsui has taken on leadership assignments and fought for party priorities such as federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, reduced prescription drug prices, and opposition to the Central American Free Trade deal. She cited her family’s experience in internment camps to warn of potential civil-liberties abuses in the USA PATRIOT Act and with detainees at Guantanamo. In 2008, she became the sixth California Democrat to get a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Matsui has been re-elected easily. In 2008, she chaired the Asian-American voter outreach campaign for Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.