Since Rep. Lois Capps announced Wednesday that she’s not seeking re-election in 2016, all eyes are on the longtime California congresswoman’s daughter Laura Burton Capps to make a bid. Local news outlets like The Los Angeles Times believe the former Bill Clinton speechwriter and aide to Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy is a likely contender to be her's mother's replacement. In a statement to Bustle, Capps said that she hadn't announced anything yet.
The daughter of a retiring congresswoman vying for her mother’s seat is a rare occurrence. Probably since being the daughter of a congresswoman or even being a congresswoman at all is a pretty rare occurrence itself. Congresswomen are more likely to take after their fathers in pursuing the family business, as was the case with Nancy Pelosi, Lisa Murkowski, Mary Landrieu, and many others.
It could be a tougher ride for the younger Capps to gain entry into the House of Representatives than it was for her mother. Succeeding a dead or retired husband was at one point the only real way of joining Congress as a woman, and in many cases, such as with Rep. Doris Matsui of California or Rep. Debbie Dingell of Colorado, the races were not competitive ones. After husband Rep. Walter Capps died of a heart attack in 1997, the newly widowed Rep. Lois Capps won his seat in a still rather competitive special election.
Capps won re-election last year — in the recently redrawn 24th District of California — by a hair. According to The Sacramento Bee , Capps won re-election in 2014 by just 3.8 more percentage points than Republican Chris Mitchum. National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Zach Hunter told The Washington Post that Capps’ district is a “likely pickup opportunity” for Republicans.
Laura Burton Capps is married to former Obama deputy press secretary Bill Burton, which depending on the political climate in 2016, could either help or hurt her chances. The Cook Political Report finds that Capp’s district will be “likely Democratic,” which is good news for those in favor of making the Capps political dynasty an actual thing. I mean, you could throw a rock and find a son who wants to follow in his father’s political footsteps. American political history is full of father-son duos and political dynasties. And in the case of presidential hopefuls such as Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, sons who want to avoid inheriting their father’s political baggage.
But we’re hardly on the way to a good old girl’s club. According to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University, there are now 104 women in Congress. This will be a total of 14 more women than we had last year. But as POLITICO points out, women have made steadily fewer gains in joining Congress since 1992 when a history-making 28 women joined Congress. Long-time senators Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland both announced their retirements this year, and many of the names being listed as their likely replacements are male.
Those vying for Capps’s seat have mostly been men as well, including Republican state Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian according to National Journal, as well as former UCLA basketball player Justin Fareed. Whoever the challenger ends up being, the race will surely be a captivating one to follow for women in politics.
Image: Lois Capps/Facebook