By Michael R. Blood
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrat Judy Chu has easily claimed a vacant U.S. House seat in a Los Angeles-area district, reinforcing the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill.
The former state Assembly member won the seat which was left open by Rep. Hilda Solis, who resigned to become President Barack Obama’s labor secretary.
Chu will become Southern California’s only Asian American in Congress. She was sworn in on July 16, giving Democrats a 256–178 edge over Republicans in the House.
With 173 of 209 precincts reporting the night of the election, Chu had 14,115 votes, or 62 percent. She was trailed by her cousin by marriage, Republican Betty Chu, with 7,355 votes, or 32 percent.
“I’m really proud, honored and humbled to have such an overwhelming vote,” Chu told The Associated Press from her victory party in Covina. With House Democratic leaders pushing a $1.5 trillion health care measure toward a vote in the full House by month’s end, Chu said she was urged to get to Washington quickly and “get ready to vote immediately.”
She said she will become a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, and hopes to joint the energy and commerce committees. She added that she was also interested in the transportation and judiciary committees.
Most residents in the 32nd Congressional District are Hispanic, but Judy Chu assembled a diverse coalition and stressed her ability to work across racial and ethnic lines. Her supporters included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of the nation’s most recognized Latino politicians.
The state Board of Equalization member easily led a field of 12 candidates in a May primary. Because no candidate cleared a majority of the vote, the top finishers in each party advanced to the runoff.
Democrats hold a 2–1 registration edge in the district, and the party has held the seat for decades.
Her predecessor stayed out of the race, but Judy Chu was endorsed by Solis’ husband, mother, father, and sisters. She also had the backing of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, headed by Maria Elena Durazo.
The district’s population is about 64 percent Hispanic, 20 percent Asian, 12 percent white, and 2 percent black. ♦
Associated Press video journalist John Mone contributed to this report.