Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald of Carson California has died of colon and liver cancer. Mrs. Millender McDonald, a former Carson City Councilwoman, California Assemblywoman, and teacher represented California’ s racially diverse 37th Congressional District for 10 years beginning in 1997 after defeating the wife of former Congressman Tucker who went down in a public corruption probe earlier that year.
Mrs. Millender McDonald had a reputation as politically progressive and forward thinking. Unafraid to lead, she was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse John Kerry in 2004 and she led a sit in the offices of Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, an unapoligetic reationary hostile to African Americans who attempted to block the nomination of former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun to an Ambassadorship in New Zealand.
The Congresswoman also had another side. She was a very high strung and abusive boss who, according to The Washington Post, “Several former staffers — some who quit and some who were fired over the past few years — report that the congresswoman is difficult to work for because she demeans staff and rarely seems pleased with their work. All asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals.
She once fired an aide for — among other issues — leaving a box of candy on her chair, said a source. Her No. 1 rule, the ex-aides say, is that aides can never walk in front of her. The sources also say she is unusually egotistical — even for a politician — and insists that staffers tout her accomplishments in news releases and other materials.”
Mrs. Millender McDonald’s diverse congressional district may change hands and the Congressional Black Caucus might lose a member. Mrs. Millender McDonald’s congressional district is only 25% African American according to the last census and more than 43% Latino. Latina State Senator Jenny Oropeza, has been identified by the Los Angeles Times as the leading contender in the special election. All of the usual African American suspects are all politicians over 72. State Senator Ed Vincent is 73, Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, a former Congresswoman is 75, and Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, also a former Congressman is 81. In short, ain’t none of them likely to run.
African Americans likely to take a serious look at running for this seat include Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin, Los Angeles Councilmembers Jan Perry, and Bernard Parks and state Assemblywoman Laura Richardson. Whatever happens, this district will be represented by a good progressive democrat and the people will lose nothing. Expect the winner of Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement to be the odds on favorite in this district.