When Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon retires this year, California will lose a veteran lawmaker. As chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, McKeon, a Republican from Santa Clarita, has fought to maintain Pentagon funding and to block cuts to defense programs in the 25th Congressional District, home to Edwards Air Force Base near Lancaster, Air Force Plant 42 near Palmdale and numerous aerospace contractors. He's been a reliable conservative GOP vote over his two decades in Congress, but he has also shown a willingness to work across party lines for the benefit of the district, helping to designate thousands of acres across the San Gabriel Mountains as wilderness.
The 25th district, which covers much of northern Los Angeles County and dips into Ventura County at Simi Valley, is still considered a Republican stronghold, though the gap between the parties is fairly narrow: 38% of registered voters are Republicans and 36% are Democrats. Two of the leading candidates in the race, former state Sen. Tony Strickland and state Sen. Steve Knight, are conservative Republicans. Both are experienced legislators who know the district well and would fight for local issues, such as blocking the giant CEMEX gravel mine from opening near Santa Clarita. But both Strickland and Knight espouse Republican positions that this page has long opposed: They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, don't want to raise the federal minimum wage and want undocumented immigrants to leave the country.
That's why we prefer Lee Rogers, a doctor and moderate Democrat from Simi Valley.
While Rogers has never held public office, he has a good grasp of the issues in the district, having continued his campaign for the office after losing to McKeon in 2012. He supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, believes in comprehensive immigration reform and would back universal background checks for gun buyers — positions this page has endorsed. Rogers is critical of the Affordable Care Act but wants to repair rather than repeal it. His experience as a doctor and in dealing with health insurance companies has given him practical ideas on how to fix problems with the law and the healthcare system in general.
We wish Rogers had more political experience. Candidates like to promote themselves as "outsiders" who will break up the partisan gridlock caused by "career politicians." But the fact is that serving in Congress is a difficult job that requires balancing the needs of the district with the needs of the country and the demands of one's political party, which may often conflict. We hope that Rogers will grow into a politician who can find that balance.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times