Lara in 2012
|Member of the California State Senate
from the 33rd district
December 3, 2012
|Preceded by||Alan Lowenthal (redistricted)|
|Member of the California State Assembly
from the 50th district
December 6, 2010 – November 30, 2012
|Preceded by||Hector De La Torre|
|Succeeded by||Richard Bloom|
November 5, 1974 |
|Residence||Bell Gardens, California|
|Alma mater||San Diego State University
University of Southern California
Ricardo Lara (born November 5, 1974) is an American politician who is currently serving in the California State Senate. A Democrat, he represents the 33rd Senate District, which encompasses Long Beach and portions of the Gateway Cities region.
He is a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and served as Chair from 2013 to 2014. He is also member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and currently serves as the Chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
Early life and career
Born in Commerce, California, Lara attended Los Angeles Unified School District schools and graduated from San Diego State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and served as student body president. He is currently pursuing a master's degree from the University of Southern California.
A longtime Assembly staffer, Lara worked as Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Marco Antonio Firebaugh (D–South Gate) when Firebaugh served as Majority Leader. Lara later served as Fabian Nuñez's district director during Nuñez's time as Speaker. He then served as communications director for Assemblyman Kevin de León (D–Los Angeles).
2008 State Assembly campaign
Lara was a candidate for the Assembly in 2008, seeking the Democratic nomination in the Los Angeles-based 46th district. He faced a number of well-connected challengers, including John Pérez, the cousin of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Following a meeting at Getty House, Villaraigosa's official residence, Pérez became the consensus candidate and the other candidates, including Lara, dropped their campaigns. Although the challengers' names remained on the ballot, Pérez won the primary comfortably and took the seat before being elected to the Speakership in late 2009.
Lara was subsequently appointed by Villaraigosa to the powerful Los Angeles Planning Commission, where he served until resigning to focus on his 2010 Assembly run in the 50th district. Running for the seat required Lara to move into the district, which at the time did not include any part of the city of Los Angeles. Because Los Angeles planning commissioners are required to be residents of the city of Los Angeles, Lara couldn't run for the 50th Assembly district while serving on the commission. He announced his candidacy for the seat in early 2009 and became a resident of Bell Gardens.
2010 State Assembly campaign
Lara faced three primary challengers in his 2010 Assembly bid, two of whom had held elected office in the district. With the support of the state and local Democratic parties as well as the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Lara prevailed handily. He faced a Republican opponent in the general election and won overwhelmingly.
In the State Assembly
Lara was sworn in as an assemblyman on December 6, 2010 and was appointed the chairman of the joint legislative audit committee. He also serves on the following committees: appropriations; banking and finance; higher education; and water, parks, and wildlife. He also chairs the select committee on financial empowerment.
When Bell's entire city council was fired or resigned in disgrace, it left no majority in the city council to swear in the newly elected council in March 2011. Lara authored Assembly Bill 93, which was an emergency action empowering an appointed alternate to swear in the new council. On April 7, 2011, Lara swore in the entirely new city council.
In 2015, Lara vetoed bill AB954, which would have appropriated $10 million from California's General Fund for the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The veto was noteworthy for two reasons: First, one of the primary goals of AB954 was to provide 10,000 residents in East Porterville, which is part of Lara's district, with running water. Second, the bill received a vote of 60-0 in favor in the California Assembly.
2012 State Senate campaign
On October 19, 2011, Lara announced plans to run for the California Senate in the newly-drawn 33rd district in 2012. The district, which has a Hispanic majority, includes many of the communities he currently represents in the Assembly as well as much of the city of Long Beach. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D–Long Beach), ex-wife of current senator Alan Lowenthal, had already announced her intention to run for the seat, setting off a high-profile contest between two Assembly Democrats. Lara swiftly lined up a number of endorsements, including from Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, the California Nurses Association and the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the last of which declared the race their number one target seat. An opinion poll also showed Lara favored to win the seat, giving him a 6-point lead over Lowenthal. Two weeks after Lara's entry into the race, Lowenthal dropped her bid for the Senate and announced that she would instead seek re-election to the Assembly.
- Assembly Member Ricardo Lara of California
- Bryant, Alyson (April 13, 2013). "A Q&A With Senator Ricardo Lara". VoiceWaves. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
- "Ricardo Lara for CA's 50th Assembly District". Sierra Club, Los Angeles chapter. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Maddaus, Gene (June 3, 2010). "The Chosen One". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
- Zahniser, David (April 10, 2010). "Legislative aide Ricardo Lara accused of straddling communities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
- Matthew S. Bajko (June 10, 2010). "Seven gay California Assembly candidates win primary races". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
- NBC Nightly News, April 7, 2011
- State Drought Bill Killed Recorder Online August 29, 2015.
- "Senate Race: Lara Receives Endorsements from Rep. Sanchez, Nurses Association, Victory Fund". Long Beach Post. October 26, 2011.
- "Latino Legislative Caucus endorses Lara for Senate". California Majority Report. November 1, 2011.
- "Senate Race: Lara Stands by 6-Point Lead in Poll, Lowenthal Focuses on Money Raised". Long Beach Post. October 26, 2011.
- "Bonnie Lowenthal chooses Assembly re-election run over Senate seat bid". Press-Telegram. November 4, 2011.
- Matthew S. Bajko (June 3, 2010). "Five gay Dems vie for Assembly". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
- McGreevy, Patrick (July 27, 2013). "Point man in the push for immigrant rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2015.