Rep. Doris Matsui, five years into her tenure in Congress, is so happy working on clean energy, housing and other issues that she's not angling for a leadership post. She says she's busy looking out for Sacramento, making sure her district gets money for the Natomas levees, Folsom dam improvements and transportation projects.
One job she isn't looking forward to: Possibly weighing in on the conduct of fellow Reps. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles and Charles Rangel of New York, who face ethics charges and whose fate could end up in the full House.
"None of us look forward to that at all," Matsui told The Bee's editorial board this afternoon. "It's difficult to judge your colleagues."
Matsui said she hasn't reviewed the allegations in detail, but knows that both colleagues are fighting them tooth and nail. She was in the House on Tuesday when Rangel took to the House floor to defend himself and demand a prompt ethics committee hearing so he wouldn't't be left "swinging in the wind" until the November election.
'He's a proud man and he's very hurt," said Matsui (shown above in a Bee photo).
(Come back to www.sacbee.com/opinion over the next few days to see The Bee editorial board's take on Waters and Rangel.)
Matsui isn't expected to face much of a challenge in November to win a fourth term (though Republican Paul Smith would dispute that), but acknowledged that fellow Democrats are likely to lose some seats because it's a midterm election in the middle of a recession with lots of unhappy voters.
But she's still optimistic that Democrats will hold on to their majority. Republicans, she said, face their own challenges because of divisions between establishment candidates and tea party activists.
And while she wasn't ready to predict victory, she said that Democrat Ami Bera will run a very strong race against Republican Rep. Dan Lungren of Gold River. Bera, she said, is bright, a very good fund-raiser and has the "fire in the belly" to win.