Rep. Sam Farr (D)
Elected: June 1993, 8th full term.
Born: July 4, 1941, San Francisco .
Education: Willamette U., B.S. 1963.
Family: Married (Shary); 1 child.
Elected office: Monterey Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors, 1975–80, chmn., 1979; CA Assembly, 1980–93.
Professional Career: Peace Corps, Colombia, 1963–65; staff, CA Assembly, 1965–75.
The congressman from the 17th District is Sam Farr, a Democrat first elected in June 1993. A fifth-generation Californian, he grew up in Monterey County, where his father was a state senator for many years. Farr signed up for the Peace Corps after college, learned Spanish at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and served two years in Colombia. He was a California Assembly staff member for a decade, became a Monterey County supervisor in 1975, and was elected to the Assembly in 1980. There, he wrote one of the nation’s strictest oil-spill liability laws. In 1993, when Democratic Rep. Leon Panetta resigned from the House to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, Farr ran for his seat. He entered the race as the overwhelming favorite, and won 26% of the vote in the all-party primary to defeat two other Democrats. But in the runoff, which came after President Clinton’s budget and tax increase had arrived in Congress, he had trouble against Republican Bill McCampbell, whom Panetta had defeated 72%-24% seven months earlier. Farr won, but by just 52%-43%.
|Sam Farr (D)||168,907||(74%)||($775,793)|
|Jeff Taylor (R)||59,037||(26%)||($41,568)|
|Sam Farr (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (76%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (68%), 2000 (69%), 1998 (65%), 1996 (59%), 1994 (52%), 1993 (52%)
In the House, Farr has a solidly liberal voting record. He is a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. On the Appropriations Committee, Farr is a senior member on subcommittees dealing with two major local concerns: farming and military bases. He helped to negotiate the final agreement that conveyed the former Fort Ord to civilian hands, and he took the lead in transferring the lands to local governments and in refusing to permit the Navy to establish a practice bombing range near Big Sur. Working with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, he led a successful effort in 2003 to repeal a little-noted provision of an appropriations bill that would have allowed poultry and beef to be raised on non-organic food but still be labeled organic. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed Farr’s bill to add 55,000 acres to the Big Sur wilderness area. Farr has pushed a major proposal to overhaul ocean management, with national and regional governance. He helped to write the 2006 law revising rules for offshore fisheries, and he also has a bill to encourage research on sea otters.
After the local spinach crop was affected by an E. coli outbreak in 2006, Farr held a press conference to urge constituents to “go Popeye” and eat spinach. He pushed for $25 million to aid producers, a provision that generated controversy after it was added to the emergency war spending bill, and it was stripped from the measure that passed in April 2007. “It’s easy to make fun of spinach,” Farr said in defense of the subsidy. “But if we had eaten more of it, we would be a stronger society.”
Nationally, Farr gets attention for some of his relatively extreme liberal positions. In 2007, he co-sponsored a resolution calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. While most Democrats had a hearty dislike for Cheney, few thought that impeachment was the solution. At a February 2008 hearing, Farr compared U.S. immigration agents to the Nazi Gestapo, explaining that his constituents had “a very ill will” toward the agents.
Farr has been re-elected easily.