Congressman Becerra Entering LA Mayors Race

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), a four-term congressman, announced on Tuesday that he is running for mayor of Los Angeles.

Becerra is the fifth major candidate to join the mayor's race. The election is set for November, 2001. If elected, Becerra would become the first Latino mayor of modern Los Angeles. He faces a serious primary challenge within his own Latino community from California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa.

Other candidates in the mayors race are City Councilman Joel Wachs, commercial real estate broker Steve Soboroff and Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn.

Becerra was elected to Congress in 1992 to represent California's 30th Congressional district, and he has faced only token opposition in every election since. He sits on the House Ways and Means Committee.

While in Congress, Becerra said declaring English as the official language "sends a message of intolerance for those trying to learn English." He opposed a law to allow local law enforcement agents to enter pacts with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce immigration laws. He struggled to oppose restrictions on bilingual education and to oppose Republican restrictions on census sampling techniques.

After his re-election in 1996, Becerra visited Cuba and met with Fidel Castro, but he did not denounce the Castro regime or demand free elections in Cuba. In 1997, Becerra was elected chairman of the Hispanic Caucus. His election caused Florida Republican Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart to resign from the caucus because of Becerra's trip to Cuba.

Political experts say Becerra's district is overwhelmingly Democratic. President Clinton overwhelmingly carried the district in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections.

Before being elected to Congress, Becerra served in the California Assembly from 1990 to 1992. Before entering politics, Becerra was a Deputy California Attorney General, an aide to California State Senator Art Torres and staff attorney for the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts. He went to college and law school at Stanford University.