Rep. George Radanovich (R)
Elected: 1994, 8th term.
Born: June 20, 1955, Mariposa .
Education: CA Polytechnic U., B.S. 1978.
Family: Married (Ethie); 1 child.
Elected office: Mariposa Cnty. Planning Comm., 1982–86, chmn., 1985–86; Mariposa Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors, 1989–92.
Professional Career: Farmer; founder & owner, Radanovich Winery, 1986–2003.
The congressman from the 19th District is George Radanovich, a Republican first elected in 1994. He will leave Congress at the end of his current term, in early January 2011. In announcing his plans to retire, Radanovich on December 29, 2009 said that he wants to spend more time with his wife, Ethie Radanovich, as she battles ovarian cancer.
|George Radanovich (R)||179,245||(98%)||($712,277)|
|George Radanovich (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (61%), 2004 (66%), 2002 (67%), 2000 (65%), 1998 (79%), 1996 (67%), 1994 (57%)
Radanovich is the son of Croatian immigrants and has relatives all over the Valley. His parents owned a clothing store and ran a small ranch. After college, Radanovich worked on the ranch and, in 1986, after studying local microclimates, opened the first winery in Mariposa County. At one time, the Radanovich Winery shipped 4,000 cases annually of sauvignon blanc, merlot, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon. (The business later faltered, and Radanovich closed it in 2003.) He served on the Mariposa County Planning Commission in the 1980s and won a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1989. In 1992, he ran for Congress, losing the primary 33%-30% to 28-year-old Tal Cloud, who lost the election to Democratic Rep. Richard Lehman. In 1994, Radanovich ran again and was an easy winner in the primary. In the general election campaign, he attacked Lehman for supporting the Clinton administration and California Democratic Rep. George Miller’s efforts to raise the price of Central Valley water. Radanovich won 57%-40%.
In the House, Radanovich has been among the most conservative members from California. One of his major interests over the years has been a resolution requiring Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide of 1915. In 1996, his measure passed, but Turkey spurned U.S. aid under such conditions. In 2000, Radanovich secured $90 million in aid for Armenia, one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid. But Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert acceded to President Bill Clinton’s appeal to abandon another resolution that recognized the Armenian genocide. In 2004, the House initially approved a similar resolution, but it was dropped from the final version of the foreign aid bill that year. With Democrats in the majority in 2007, the resolution appeared to have better prospects. After the House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly approved the resolution in October 2007, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled the bill from the floor in response to pleas from President Bush and some Democrats.
On the Natural Resources Committee for several years, Radanovich chaired the National Parks Subcommittee. He was able to pass proposals to improve the remote schools serving families that work at Yosemite National Park, but he encountered opposition from conservatives to his plan designating the 318-mile Highway 49 as a National Heritage Corridor. Property owners complained about losing rights to use their land as they pleased, and Radanovich modified the plan. He also is the sponsor of an ambitious plan to restore the San Joaquin River, which began drying up when Friant Dam was built decades ago to irrigate San Joaquin Valley farms. Downstream sections of the river are sometimes completely dry because of the dam. Radanovich and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein have sponsored a bill that would settle a long-standing lawsuit by environmentalists over the decline of the river and its salmon population. New canals would be built to continue to supply water for irrigation, but farmers represented by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes in the adjacent 21st District remain skeptical.
In 2009, Radanovich became the became ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, where his priority is legislation to protect privacy and ward off identity theft.
After pledging to serve only 10 years in the House, Radanovich broke the promise in 2004 to stay in Congress, saying he needed “some flexibility” to accomplish his goals. That year he explored challenging Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, but decided to hold on to his safe seat in the House. He suffered a black eye in July 2004 when the Fresno Bee published a lengthy report about the collapse of his winery, which left several investors short hundreds of thousands of dollars while Radanovich continued to own the land and other assets. The story questioned whether the investors’ losses amounted to a gift to Radanovich, which House rules would prohibit. He said that the newspaper was representing the views of “unhappy investors.” The controversy has not caused him problems at election time.