Lois Capps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lois Capps
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
March 17, 1998 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byWalter Capps
Succeeded bySalud Carbajal
Constituency22nd district (1998–2003)
23rd district (2003–13)
24th district (2013–17)
Personal details
Lois Ragnhild Grimsrud

(1938-01-10) January 10, 1938 (age 85)
Ladysmith, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1960; died 1997)
EducationPacific Lutheran University (BS)
Yale University (MA)
University of California, Santa Barbara (MA)

Lois Ragnhild Capps (née Grimsrud; January 10, 1938) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for California's 24th congressional district from 1998 to 2017. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 22nd District from 1998 to 2003 and the 23rd from 2003 to 2013, includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a portion of Ventura County.

Capps served on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she was a member of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Health. She was a member of the New Democrat Coalition.

Early life and education[edit]

Capps was born Lois Ragnhild Grimsrud in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, the daughter of Solveig Magdalene (née Gullixson) and Rev. Jurgen Milton Grimsrud, a Lutheran minister. Both of her parents' families came from Norway.[1] She has lived in Santa Barbara since 1964. She was educated at Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She earned a master's degree in religion at Yale Divinity School in 1964[2] and a Master of Arts degree in education at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1990.[3][4]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Capps official portrait


Walter Capps was elected to Congress in 1996 in a rematch of his 1994 race against Republican Andrea Seastrand. However, he died of a heart attack on October 28, 1997, only nine months into his term. His widow won the then-22nd District seat by defeating Republican Tom Bordonaro in a special election on March 10, 1998. She was sworn into the 105th Congress on March 17. Lois Capps successfully defended her seat against Bordonaro in a general election later that year, and commenced her first full term in office.

In 2000, Capps retained the 22nd district seat, defeating Republican Mike Stoker with 53% of the vote. She was the first Democrat to hold the district for more than one term in over 50 years (the district, known as the 11th from its formation in 1943 until 1953, the 13th from 1953 to 1975 and the 19th from 1975 to 1993, had been held by Republicans from 1947 until Walter Capps was sworn in 1997).

Capps' district was renumbered as the 23rd after the 2000 census and made somewhat safer, and she was reelected without serious opposition in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Her district was renumbered as the 24th District after the 2010 census.[5] David Wasserman, House editor of The Cook Political Report, predicted that this would be a more difficult race, and local Republicans confirmed that Capps was one of their top targets in California.[6] The reconfigured district still includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, but was redrawn to include most of the more Republican inland areas of Santa Barbara County.[7] Capps eventually beat her opponent, Abel Maldonado, with 54.8% of the vote.[8]

In 2014, Capps ran against Republican Chris Mitchum, an actor, screenwriter, and businessman. Mitchum is the son of legendary film star Robert Mitchum. This was Mitchum's second consecutive try for the 24th district, having previously lost the 2012 primary to Abel Maldonado.[9] In the closest race of her entire congressional career, Capps ultimately won with only a 3.8% margin over Mitchum.[10]

Capps announced in April 2015 that she would not seek reelection in 2016.[11]

Political positions[edit]

Capps has been described as a "solid liberal". In The Washingtonian magazine's 2006 "Best and Worst of Congress" poll of congressional staffers, Capps was named the nicest member of Congress.[12]

In 2011, Capps voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 as part of a controversial provision that allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[13]

Health care

Capps supported the Obama administration's economic stimulus and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[14] She was strongly critical of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment to the latter, which placed limits on taxpayer-funding of abortions (except in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life). Capps had earlier sponsored the Capps Amendment, which was defeated and replaced by the Stupak Amendment. Capps introduced the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013 which would, if enacted, authorize the NIH to support, fund, and coordinate data from research on rare pediatric diseases.

Foreign policy

In 2012, she was the only member of the House to vote "no" on Resolution 556 to condemn the government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani of the charge of apostasy. The resolution passed 417–1 with 15 non-votes.[15] Her spokeswoman later said that Capps strongly supported the resolution, but cast the no vote by mistake.[16]

Environmental policy

In 2004, the House passed her piece of legislation to prohibit "comprehensive inventory of oil and gas resources beneath the outer continental shelf." She was also a vocal opponent of drilling for oil in the Los Padres National Forest and offshore drilling off the coast of California.[12]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues
  • Co-Chair of the National Marine Sanctuary Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Coastal Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition
  • Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Infant Health and Safety
  • Founded the Congressional Nursing Caucus
  • Founded the School Health and Safety Caucus
  • Member of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus

Personal life[edit]

In 1960, while at Yale, she married Walter Capps, a divinity student at Yale who later became a prominent religious studies professor at UCSB; they eventually had three children. Walter died in 1997 and their eldest daughter Lisa died in 2000. Lois Capps worked for 20 years as a nurse and health advocate for the Santa Barbara public schools and also taught early childhood education part-time at Santa Barbara City College. Capps' daughter, Laura, was married to Bill Burton, a political consultant who served as Deputy White House Press Secretary in the Obama administration.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "capps". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  2. ^ "Lois Capps 1964 M.A.R. 2004 Distinction in Community Service". Archived from the original on October 7, 2015.
  3. ^ "Alumna Lois Capps to be guest speaker at UC Santa Barbara's Graduate Division Commencement, graduating Ph.D. student Joshua Kuntzman to be Division's student speaker". education.ucsb.edu. June 14, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  4. ^ "Portraits of Success" (PDF). graddiv.ucsb.edu. pp. 17–20. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  5. ^ "Capps Running for Re-Election in New Central Coast Congressional District". Re-Elect Lois Capps. July 29, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Jean Merl and Richard Simon (December 11, 2011). "New district maps threaten Republicans' seats in Congress". LA Times. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  7. ^ "Members of Congress & Congressional District Maps - GovTrack.us". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Capps beats Maldonado in 24th District race | the Adobe Press". Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Dems rush to save suddenly vulnerable incumbents". US News & World Report. October 29, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  10. ^ "2016 General Election Results - California Secretary of State". Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  11. ^ Hulse, Carl (April 8, 2015). "Representative Lois Capps Announces Retirement". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b "Rep. Lois Capps (D)". Almanac. National Journal. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  13. ^ "NDAA Bill: How Did Your Congress Member Vote?". International Business Times. December 16, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "California 23rd District Profile". The New York Times. October 29, 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  15. ^ "House Resolution 556". clerk.house.gov. March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  16. ^ "House condemns Iran for imprisonment of Christian minister". New Orleans Times-Picayune. March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  17. ^ "H.R. 3008 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (January 27, 2014). "Oooommm... House votes to give federal land to yoga foundation". The Hill. Retrieved January 29, 2014.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 24th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative