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US_NEWS_INAUGURATION_182_TB.jpgPlenty of California elected officials traveled to Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama's inauguration -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will use his time in the nation's capital to push for more mental health funding -- and a lavish ceremony hosted by the California State Society attracted a fair number of heavyweights.

But if proximity to power is a gauge of clout in Washington, only a few California politicians made it to the inner circle. That would be the rarefied space on stage, close to the president as he delivered his inauguration address.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were there, seated alongside fellow Senate Democrats, as well as Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who wore a white cowboy hat for the occasion.

Also on stage were Californians representing opposite ends of the House's ideological spectrum: Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, shared the space with Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who was seated directly behind several Supreme Court justices.

Outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta and departing labor secretary Hilda Solis, both of whom got their start in California politics before ascending to Cabinet-level positions, were there as well. Solis served in the California Legislature from 1992 to 1997 and then represented El Monte in Congress from 2001 to 2009; Panetta, who is originally from Monterey, represented California in the House.

PHOTO: Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi can be seen in the upper left of this photo, as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama at the U.S Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013. Brian Cassella/ Chicago Tribune/ MCT.



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