A NEW CALIFORNIA POLITICAL DYNASTY?
IRWINDALE - The American political system was intended to be a sharp departure from the dynastic monarchies of Europe, which periodically plunged their nations - and sometimes the entire continent - into turmoil whenever there was a dispute over succession or who had the proper sovereign claim to neighboring lands. Think of Shakespeare's epic Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V. Americans were republicans and democrats - political power should be given to those who had earned the consent of the governed, and not bestowed upon you simply because of who your parents or family were.
Strange as it may seem, however, political dynasties have survived and thrived in the rough and tumble electoral politics of the United States. Pick any state in the Union, and usually you can name a significant political family that have dominated its politics. Think of the Tafts of Ohio, the Udalls of Arizona, the Lees of Virginia and the Bushes, Adamses, Roosevelts, and Kennedys. California is no stranger to political dynasties, as the influence of the Brown family - which has produced two extremely influential governors and a state treasurer - has long been intertwined with other influential families in the state like the Pelosies, Newsoms, and Gettys.
Even though the United States has never had an established aristocracy that compares with those in Europe, family ties remain powerful and advantageous, especially when running for elected office. To follow a parent or sibling into politics allows a candidate to draw upon their preexisting name recognition and all the benefits and baggage that goes with it. A dynastic candidate can also draw upon the loyalty of donors and staff that had supported their parent in the past. Moreover, family ties allow candidates to draw upon the experience, know-how, trust and support of their blood relations. All these advantages show why dynastic candidates can be extraordinarily successful in America.
This week news broke that two prominent political families may end up vying head-to-head over the open 57th Assembly seat in the 2020 election. Majority Leader Ian Calderon, who has held the 57th Assembly seat since his election in 2012, announced his intent not to run in 2020. Several candidates have since thrown their hats in the ring, most prominently Calderon's stepmother, Lisa Calderon, as well as Sylvia Rubio, the sister of State Senator Susan Rubio and Asm. Blanca Rubio. The Calderon family once featured three brothers in the state legislature - could the Rubios become the first family of three sisters to serve as state lawmakers together? The voters in the 57th Assembly District will decide next year.