I was still living in Boston when one of the big stories from election day 1996 was the upset election of Loretta Sanchez to Congress over B-1 Bob Dornan. I remember this nervous young woman on TV talking about phone calls she received from President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore about doing whatever they could to help her in Congress and hold that seat — and she did hold the seat for 20 years and Orange County is better for it.
Congresswoman Sanchez term expires next week. While many will point to her Christmas cards and the occasional gaffe, what’s often overlooked is her ability to connect with those she served in Congress, her ability to listen, and her ability to explain critical issues facing the region and the nation.
She’ll be missed.
“Loretta Sanchez has been engaged and invested in supporting local Democrats for two decades,” said State Rep. Sharon Quirk-Silva (AD-65). “When I first decided to run for Fullerton City Council in 2003, Loretta met with me and helped guide me. We have been friends ever since. She was the first one to encourage me to run for State Assembly. Loretta has paved the way for so many other elected officials. I am honored to have hger support and sincerely thank her for her contributions to our country.”
“Loretta Sanchez made political history in OC by beating a heavily favored incumbent in Bob Dornan,”: said Congressman-elect Lou Correa. “Many of the changes that you see today in Central Orange county today are a direct result of her success. Let us know forget how it all started. Loretta, we thank you for your years of service. Somehow, I suspect Loretta’s political legacy is far from over.”
During her time in Congress, Rep. Sanchez held senior positions on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. She served as a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was the co-chair of the Immigration Task Force.
Loretta is a recognized leader on military and national security issues, having served as the Ranking Member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, where she worked to prepare our Armed Forces for a new generation of security challenges. Additionally, she was a member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which helped our defense department prepare for any missile or nuclear attacks.
Notably, Loretta was the founder and co-chair of the Women in the Military Caucus which advocates for female service members to serve in combat roles and fights to stop sexual assault in the armed forces. She passed a bill updating sexual assault provisions in the Military Justice system and her work led to the creation of a military sexual assault database.
Rep. Sanchez has also served on the House Homeland Security Committee (HSC) since its inception after the 9/11 attacks and was a senior member. This work led to her role with the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, focused on keeping our land and sea borders safe and secure as well as the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies which is where I first met her while handling PR for an OC-based cybersecurity company; she knows her stuff.
Loretta logged hundreds of thousands of miles in the air, and traveling back to OC almost every weekend. She recently moved to Orange and her plans for the future are not public at the moment. This blog is hopeful will be run for the US Senate when Dianne Feinstein retires which could be as soon as the 2018 election.
We’ve invited other prominent Democrats to weigh in on Loretta’s time in Congress and will update this post as those comments come in.