Capitol Alert

Democrat Roger Hernández to challenge veteran Rep. Grace Napolitano

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, right, at the state Capitol in Sacramento.
Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, right, at the state Capitol in Sacramento. RBenton@sacbee.com

Assemblyman Roger Hernández of West Covina will announce Saturday that he is running for the 32nd Congressional District, pitting him against veteran Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano, a fellow Democrat who last week celebrated her 79th birthday.

Hernández, 40, plans to formally announce his bid at Galster Park in West Covina, where he previously served as mayor and city councilman.

He took his seat in the Legislature five years ago, representing a San Gabriel Valley seat stretching from El Monte to Glendora. As chairman of the influential Labor and Employment committee, he carried several labor-backed bills. Over the years he has overcome repeated accusations of misconduct, including domestic violence claims by a former girlfriend and an investigation into political money laundering. He was cleared of the latter allegation last month by the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency after the grave illness of one key witness and the death of another.

In previewing his announcement, Hernández’s campaign cited his work on landmark legislation protecting workers and working families as well as his fight to restore funding for adult education programs and his advocacy for a local trauma center.

“His dedication to the San Gabriel Valley throughout the years has been his motivation to continue to serve in public office,” the statement said.

For her part, Napolitano announced Friday that she plans to seek a 10th term in Congress, a decision she came to “after careful consideration.”

A senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Napolitano said she wants to “continue working toward full local and national economic recovery and strengthening our efforts to combat global terrorism and protect America’s security.”

She added: “I humbly ask the voters in my 32nd District for another term to work and fight for them in Washington.”

Napolitano may be in for a tough fight. While she has more than $310,000 to spend on her reelection as of Sept. 30, she raised just $39,000 in the last quarter. In challenging a long-time incumbent, Hernández appears to be borrowing from a playbook successfully executed by the likes of Rep. Eric Swalwell in 2012, at the time a 31-year-old county prosecutor who unseated fellow Democrat and former Rep. Peter Stark, a 40-year veteran.

In the South Bay this year, Democrat Ro Khanna, 39, is launching a rematch against party stalwart Mike Honda of San Jose, who is 74 years old.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

  Comments