After months of speculation, longtime Rules Committee Chair and Congressional Representative David Dreier, 59, finally announced his retirement Wednesday.
While his retirement was expected, political analysts are saying Dreier’s departure will leave a significant political void not only in Washington, but in his hometown district in the San Gabriel Valley.
Dreier, the 30-year veteran Republican Congressman, announced his retirement on the House floor, jokingly blaming his retirement on Congress’ pathetic image. However, along with Dreier’s paltry campaign fundraising, rumors of his retirement intensified last summer when the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved redistricting maps that Altadena ended up in another district, so regardless of whether Dreier retired, the town would no longer have Dreier as a representative anyway.
With Dreier the only Republican from California on the Rules Committee, his departure, say analysts, diminishes the state’s influence on the committee. As major legislation goes through the Rules Committee before it goes to the House floor, the committee has significant influence on the details and modifications of legislation.
But the loss may be especially felt in Dreier’s region, which includes a sliver of Altadena representing about 10 percent of the town's voting population. Dreier has long been involved in regional issues such as the Gold Line, JPL funding and the county Fire and Forest Service policies.
John Korey, professor emeritus of political science at Cal Poly Pomona, said the loss of Dreier would diminish the region’s voice and input on the committee on policy that could have great affect on the local level.
“The devil is in the details when we talk about legislation,” said Korey. “If we’re talking about something like , Dreier’s influence would factor in heavily in negotiations over budget and appropriations.”
A senior member like Dreier would have had great influence in steering projects and opportunities to his district, say analysts.
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported Dreier sponsored or co-sponsored 16 earmarks totaling more than $19 million in 2010, according to data collected by the Taxpayers For Common Sense and OpenSecrets.org.
Still, seniority may not be as significant as it was in years past.
Doug Johnson, fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, told the Bulletin that new laws such as the ban on earmarking diminishes the influence of seniority.
While Dreier’s Congressional career will come to a close, Korey suspects Dreier may pursue other political avenues, including a high administration post should the Republicans win the presidential election in November.
“There is lots of possibilities for him,” said Korey. “He’s still young. I can’t imagine him just going away.”