Ricardo Lara

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Ricardo Lara
Senator Ricardo Lara 2016.jpg
Senator Ricardo Lara in 2016
Member of the California State Senate
from the 33rd district
Assumed office
December 3, 2012
Preceded by Alan Lowenthal (redistricted)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 50th district
In office
December 6, 2010 – November 30, 2012
Preceded by Hector De La Torre
Succeeded by Richard Bloom
Personal details
Born (1974-11-05) November 5, 1974 (age 43)
Commerce, California
Political party Democratic
Residence Bell Gardens, California
Alma mater San Diego State University
University of Southern California

Ricardo Lara (born November 5, 1974[1]) 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.

Prior to his 2012 election to the State Senate, Lara served in the California State Assembly, representing the 50th Assembly District.

He is a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and served as Chair from 2013 to 2014. He is also vice chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Commerce, California,[2] Lara is the son of a factory worker and seamstress who immigrated from Mexico.[3] 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.[4][5] 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).

In politics[edit]

2008 State Assembly campaign[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

2010 State Assembly campaign[edit]

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.[7] He faced a Republican opponent in the general election and won overwhelmingly.

In the State Assembly[edit]

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.[8][disputed ]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 with running water. Second, the bill received a vote of 60-0 in favor in the California Assembly.[9]

2012 State Senate campaign[edit]

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.[10][11] An opinion poll also showed Lara favored to win the seat, giving him a 6-point lead over Lowenthal.[12] 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.[13]

Senator Lara was reelected to the Senate in 2016 with 78.6% of the vote.[14]

In the State Senate[edit]

Senator Lara has passed legislation for cleaner air, to expand healthcare, and to protect the civil rights of Californians.[15] He was author of the Super Pollutant Reduction Act (Senate Bill 1383) in 2016, which created the nation's toughest law on black carbon, methane, and fluorocarbons that contribute to global warming.[16] Senator Lara wrote Senate Bill 4, Health for All Kids, which became the basis for 2015 budget action that led to healthcare for nearly 200,000 illegal immigrant children under California's Medi-Cal program.[17]

In the 2017 legislative session, Senator Lara introduced the Healthy California Act (Senate Bill 562) with Senator Toni Atkins to create a single-payer healthcare plan that replaces private insurance with a publicly run plan that covers all Californians, including an estimated 2.7 million uninsured and as many as one-third of Californians who are underinsured.[18] He is also joint author with Senator Holly Mitchell of a package of bills to reform criminal justice and juvenile justice laws by requiring minors consult with an attorney on a Miranda warning, ensure children under age 12 are not subject to juvenile court and seal arrest records for those never convicted of a crime.

Senator Lara has also introduced bills to create cleaning product chemical disclosure, prevent California law enforcement from participating in the creation of a registry based on religion, ethnicity or national origin, and prevent the state of California from entering contracts with companies that work on federal border wall project.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Lara is openly gay.[20] He is one of eight members of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. Lara was born to parents who came from Mexico to the USA illegally.[21]


  1. ^ Assembly Member Ricardo Lara of California
  2. ^ Bryant, Alyson (April 13, 2013). "A Q&A With Senator Ricardo Lara". VoiceWaves. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (July 27, 2013). "Point Man in the Push for Immigrant Rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Senator Ricardo Lara official biography". Retrieved May 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Maddaus, Gene (June 3, 2010). "The Chosen One". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ Zahniser, David (April 10, 2010). "Legislative aide Ricardo Lara accused of straddling communities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  7. ^ Matthew S. Bajko (June 10, 2010). "Seven gay California Assembly candidates win primary races". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  8. ^ NBC Nightly News, April 7, 2011
  9. ^ State Drought Bill Killed Recorder Online August 29, 2015.
  10. ^ "Senate Race: Lara Receives Endorsements from Rep. Sanchez, Nurses Association, Victory Fund". Long Beach Post. October 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Latino Legislative Caucus endorses Lara for Senate". California Majority Report. November 1, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Senate Race: Lara Stands by 6-Point Lead in Poll, Lowenthal Focuses on Money Raised". Long Beach Post. October 26, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Bonnie Lowenthal chooses Assembly re-election run over Senate seat bid". Press-Telegram. November 4, 2011. 
  14. ^ "California Statement of Vote" (PDF). California Secretary of State. 
  15. ^ "Official biography". Senate District 33 website. 
  16. ^ "Gov. Jerry Brown signs 'toughest' restrictions on pollutants in Long Beach". Pasadena Star News. September 19, 2017. 
  17. ^ "California budget deal grants health coverage to children in U.S. illegally". Los Angeles Times. June 16, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Senate Bill 562 website". 
  19. ^ "2017 Legislative Update". Senate District 33 website. 
  20. ^ Matthew S. Bajko (June 3, 2010). "Five gay Dems vie for Assembly". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  21. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (July 27, 2013). "Point man in the push for immigrant rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 

External links[edit]