Amanda Renteria, a Democratic operative who served as the national political director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, threw her name into the race for California governor Wednesday. Renteria is Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s chief of operations.
Here are five things you should know about Renteria:
1. She is the daughter of migrant workers from the Central Valley. Renteria grew up in Woodlake, a small town in the San Joaquin Valley southeast of Fresno. Her father, Trinidad, was a Mexican immigrant who worked in construction. Her mother, Helen, was Mexican-American and worked as a secretary. She was the first woman and Latina from her high school to attend Stanford University, where she majored in economics and political science and wrote her senior thesis on women in politics. Renteria eventually earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
2. She is a lifelong jock. Renteria played four years as a third baseman on the Stanford women’s softball team and also played on the women’s basketball team her freshman year. She also has competed in semi-pro softball and pickup basketball. While chief of staff for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Renteria would network with many male chiefs of staff through pickup basketball games. Renteria has also run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and swam the mile across the San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz.
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3. She has been motivated by Donald Trump’s criticism of Mexicans. While serving as Clinton’s national political director, Renteria was responsible for the day-to-day logistics of the campaign’s get-out-the-vote and political outreach operation. She mixed with elected officials and voters representing many different demographic backgrounds, and Trump’s rhetoric surrounding Mexicans and immigrants affected her personally.
“It’s really a tough election because it’s made politics personal in a way that I think no other election has, at least in my lifetime,” Renteria said in 2016. “It’s a hard thing ... knowing I’m Mexican-American and knowing the way Trump’s demonizing me.”
4. Before politics, she gained experience on Wall Street, in schools and in local government. After her time at Stanford, Renteria worked for Goldman Sachs before eventually becoming a math teacher at her former high school in Woodlake. She then worked for the city of San Jose as a consultant on a neighborhood revitalization initiative. In 2006, Renteria moved to Washington, D.C., to work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, before becoming Stabenow’s chief of staff in 2008 and the first Latina chief of staff in U.S. Senate history. While working for Stabenow, Renteria helped with policymaking during an intense budget battle and eventual government shutdown.
5. She has previously run for Congress. Renteria lost big, 42 percent to 58 percent, in her 2014 attempt to unseat Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, despite raising more than $1.7 million and enjoying support from several high-profile Democrats. She campaigned with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, now one of her opponents in the gubernatorial race, and even drew then-Vice President Joe Biden to a campaign rally. Some Central Valley Democrats chalked up her loss to poor support and organization from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Following the loss to Valadao and Clinton’s loss in the presidential election, Renteria became Becerra’s operations chief in 2017. She is in charge of the 1,000 state Department of Justice employees who provide support to 3,500 attorneys.
Billy Kobin: (916) 321-1860, @Billy_Kobin