Rep. Tony Cárdenas, a Southern California Democrat who helped turn the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ political arm into a fundraising powerhouse but was twice thwarted in his effort to run the entire Democratic caucus campaign operation, won’t seek reelection.
Cárdenas told the Los Angeles Times, which first reported his retirement, that he’s ready to take on a new challenge after six terms in the House. The 60-year-old has spent nearly three decades in elective office, serving in the state Assembly and on the Los Angeles City Council.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries praised Cárdenas, calling him “a champion for children and families.”
“His work in the state Assembly and in the Congress has helped transform the juvenile detention system, banning the use of solitary confinement for minors,’’ Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Tony has advanced efforts to increase access to mental health and addiction treatment, lower prescription drug prices and create a more just and equitable health care system.”
The safe Democratic seat in the San Fernando Valley is unlikely to shift the balance of power in Congress in favor of the GOP. Cárdenas endorsed Democrat Luz Rivas, an Assembly member, to succeed him, according to the Times.
A member of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, Cárdenas has spent much of his time focusing on consumer issues. He authored several bills that saw legislative action, including a proposal to restore the Federal Trade Commission’s power to recover money for consumers. The agency’s authority was stripped away by an April 2021 Supreme Court ruling. The provision had been used by the FTC to secure billions of dollars in relief for consumers, including $11.2 billion over the five years prior to the ruling, according to the agency.
Cárdenas championed legislation to ban inclined sleepers and crib bumpers that allow infants to roll into unsafe and sometimes fatal positions. The bans conform to new safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In 2014, Cárdenas was elected chairman of Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ campaign operation, and the political action committee nearly doubled its fundraising.
“As a leader within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he’s been instrumental in increasing the number of Latinos serving in Congress to a record level,’’ Jeffries said.
Cárdenas made a bid to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2022 cycle, but lost to then-New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. He tried again for the current 2024 cycle, but was again unsuccessful after House Democrats changed the way the position is filled, giving the caucus leader a bigger role in choosing the campaign chair.