Your guide to California’s Congressional District 30 race: The battle for Schiff’s seat

Photos of 8 candidates in the 30th Congressional District
Candidates in the 30th Congressional District, clockwise from top left: Anthony Portantino, Laura Friedman, Mike Feuer, G. “Maebe a Girl” Pudlo, Ben Savage, Nick Melvoin, Sepi Shyne and Jirair Ratevosian.

Yes, the winner of the race to replace Rep. Adam B. Schiff will get a two-year term in Congress, like every other victor come November.

But that’s hardly the real prize at stake.

This is an all-out battle for what could essentially be a congressional seat for life: a sapphire blue stronghold with comfortable reelection prospects for decades to come. Schiff (D-Burbank) has held the seat for more than two decades, but is leaving it open to run for the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat in the Senate.

California’s 30th Congressional District includes some very wealthy sections of Los Angeles and major entertainment studios, making its representative well-positioned to tap an affluent fundraising base as he or she builds a national profile.


No wonder the field is jam-packed and includes some of the state’s most ambitious politicians.


Who are the candidates?

  • Laura Friedman, Democrat, state Assembly member.

Friedman (D-Glendale) has been a leader on transportation, housing and environmental issues in the Assembly, writing the state’s so-called fur coat ban of 2019 as well as laws that make it easier to build accessory dwelling units to ease the housing crisis and barring local governments from mandating parking spaces as part of most development near transit stops.

  • Anthony Portantino, Democrat, state senator.

Portantino (D-Burbank) chairs the Senate’s powerful Appropriations Committee. During his time in the Senate, he has written several gun safety measures, leading the charge on the state’s revamped concealed-carry regulations, which face an ongoing court challenge. He’s also championed mental-health-related bills — particularly expanding resources for children.

  • Mike Feuer, Democrat, former Los Angeles city attorney, councilman and state Assembly member.

Feuer — who ran for Los Angeles mayor in 2022 — also previously served in the state Assembly and on the L.A. City Council. His campaign underscores the fights he took on with the Trump administration while he was city attorney, among other things. City Hall watchdogs have criticized Feuer for his handling of a lawsuit stemming from the Department of Water and Power billing debacle, which helped trigger a federal investigation.

  • Nick Melvoin, Democrat, Los Angeles Unified School District board member.

Melvoin is a two-term school board member who was first elected in a historically expensive 2017 race in which he ousted an incumbent with the help of charter school backers. He began his career as a local public school teacher in Watts and went to law school on a public interest fellowship before running for school board. He chaired the district’s budget committee and spearheaded the launch of the district’s Open Data Portal, according to his campaign website.

  • Sepi Shyne, Democrat, West Hollywood mayor.

Shyne was elected to the West Hollywood City Council in 2020.

  • Ben Savage, Democrat, actor, producer and businessman.

The former “Boy Meets World” star previously ran for West Hollywood City Council in 2022, finishing seventh.

  • G. “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo, Democrat, Silver Lake Neighborhood Council member.

Pudlo, a trans activist, ran against Schiff in 2022, winning less than 30% of the vote.

  • Jirair Ratevosian, Democrat, public health advocate.

Ratevosian has a doctoral degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University and previously worked at the U.S. State Department and as legislative director to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), according to his campaign website.
Other candidates include:

  • Francesco Arreaga, Democrat, legislative advisor.
  • Steve Dunwoody, Democrat, government affairs director.
  • Alex Balekian, Republican, intensive care physician.
  • Josh Bocanegra, no party preference, entrepreneur and AI developer.
  • Sal Genovese, Democrat, community services director and perennial candidate who challenged Schiff for his seat at least six times but never made it past the primary.
  • Courtney Najera, Democrat, who is a full-time student, according to her LinkedIn profile.
  • J. Emilio Martinez, Republican, producer/writer/comedian.

Where is the district?

California’s 30th District stretches from Beverly Grove east to Pasadena, spanning north-south from the Angeles National Forest to Echo Park.

Along with those neighborhoods, it includes some or all of West Hollywood, Carthay, Mid-Wilshire, Park La Brea, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Hollywood, East Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Little Armenia, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Glendale, Burbank, Shadow Hills, Sunland, Tujunga and Universal City.

Schiff received more than 71% of the vote in 2022, resoundingly defeating Pudlo in the general election.


Democrats account for 55% of registered voters in the district and Republicans make up 16%, according to data from the California secretary of state’s office.


Who’s raised the most money?

Portantino and Feuer have led in the fundraising battle, with Melvoin and Friedman following.

Savage also has a considerable war chest, having put more than a million dollars into his own campaign.

Shyne and Ratevosian are the only other candidates who had raised more than six figures during the most recent publicly available filing period, which runs through September 2023.


Who’s backing whom?

Feuer has the endorsement of L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, LAUSD board President Jackie Goldberg and several members of Congress.


Friedman has the endorsement of a number of prominent women’s groups, including Emily’s List; several environmental organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and California Environmental Voters; and multiple statewide elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, state Treasurer Fiona Ma and Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. She also has the backing of L.A. City Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Katy Yaroslavsky and former Councilmember David Ryu.

Portantino has the backing of some of the most powerful local labor organizations, including the L.A. County Federation of Labor, SEIU California and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) are also supporting Portantino.

Shyne has the backing of Los Angeles City Councilmember Heather Hutt and Inglewood Mayor James Butts.

Alex Balekian has the support of the Los Angeles County Republican Party.

The L.A. County Democratic Party did not endorse in the primary.



A recent survey from the Public Policy Institute of California showed 2 in 3 Californians expect bad times financially during the next 12 months. We asked candidates what legislative actions they would support to help improve affordability for middle- and low-income Californians.


Portantino highlighted the state’s housing affordability crisis, saying more must be done to build housing, increase rental assistance and provide federal funds to support public housing. He also said Medicare should be expanded to everyone to make healthcare more affordable and Congress should pass meaningful student loan debt forgiveness.

Feuer also focused on housing affordability, saying he would fight to make housing more affordable by expanding financing, providing aid to first-time homebuyers and dramatically boosting the renters’ tax credit by creating a meaningful federal renters’ tax credit to supplement the existing small state tax credit. Feuer also said he would champion clean energy investment to make energy prices more stable and push a Green New Deal to increase economic opportunity.

California’s U.S. Senate contest is among the most competitive and expensive in the nation. Voters will also weigh in on legislative and local contests and a multi-billion-dollar ballot measure.

Feb. 1, 2024

Friedman said she would champion legislative actions to build more affordable housing, increase the child tax credit, expand subsidized child care and strengthen safety net programs. She also supports national healthcare reform and advocates canceling student loan debt, lowering college tuition and repealing portions of the tax code that allow hoarding of corporate profits.

Melvoin stressed the need to expand the ability for Medicaid and Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs. He also advocated passing universal preschool and paid family leave, cutting red tape to build affordable housing and ensuring that the government is investing in green public infrastructure that will create good-paying jobs.

Other candidates proposed a variety of solutions in their questionnaires. Several, including Pudlo, Bocanegra and Dunwoody, favor creating universal basic income programs.



We also asked all the candidates what is the single most important policy change the federal government could enact to address and alleviate homelessness in California.

Friedman said the U.S. “must recognize housing as a basic human right,” arguing that federal tax policy should be aligned to “promote the building of affordable housing and discourage speculation.” She also said services should be expanded to end street encampments and provide greater support for low-income renters who can’t find housing in the private market.

Pudlo also described housing as human right, arguing for national rent control and more permanent, supportive housing and services, “paired with the decriminalization of homelessness.”

Portantino said that the “federal government must be a partner and provide mental health care. Keeping people on the streets is not progressive, and the federal government can also provide more transitional housing opportunities.” He also argued for more long-term housing and access to services, including drug and alcohol treatment.

Savage argued that Congress should pass legislation to ensure permanent supportive housing, as well as expanded mentorship and job training programs. He also said there should be increased funding and accessibility for mental health resources.


Melvoin focused on housing production, saying the federal government “should allow for the construction of low-cost housing on unused public land in cities and provide increased funding for these housing projects while integrating mental health and job training services.”

Shyne said the country needs “more housing and investments in social services to help unhoused people get a fresh start.” She suggested that the federal government “can pass a huge investment in public and affordable housing with the help of [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] and the private sector, which includes funding for wraparound services.”

Ratevosian emphasized his background in government, saying that, as “a former staffer, I know how to ensure federal grants make it to our district.” He said tackling the root causes of homelessness to connect housing programs to social services was the key to a lasting solution, arguing that more affordable housing and mental health coverage were needed, along with “less corporate greed.”

Feuer argued for promoting affordable housing and upgrading mental health, substance abuse and veterans’ resources. He also said that project-based housing vouchers should be expanded. He advocated for ending rules limiting federal funding for mental health facilities and substance abuse treatment and to “stop counting veterans’ benefits in setting housing eligibility.”



Portantino, Shyne, Melvoin, Savage, Ratevosian, Friedman, Feuer, Arreaga, Genovese, Dunwoody, Pudlo and Bocanegra said they would vote for nationwide abortion rights so that states can’t outlaw abortion.


Portantino and Friedman have both received high ratings from Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights advocacy groups while in office.

While in the city attorney’s office, Feuer aggressively enforced a then-new state law requiring pregnancy clinics to inform clients of their reproductive rights, winning praise from the abortion rights advocacy group then known as NARAL, which is now called Reproductive Freedom for All.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office announced Monday that it is aggressively enforcing a new state law requiring pregnancy clinics to inform clients of their reproductive rights.

May 23, 2016

Martinez, one of the two Republicans in the race, said he would vote for a nationwide abortion ban so that states can’t make abortion legal. Balekian, the other Republican, said he supported current law leaving abortion decisions to the states and would not vote for any changes.

Najera did not fill out The Times’ questionnaire.


Gun laws

Aside from the two Republicans, all candidates who filled out the questionnaire held very similar opinions on gun control.

Feuer, Friedman, Ratevosian, Portantino, Melvoin, Pudlo, Savage, Shyne, Bocanegra, Dunwoody and Arreaga all said they support raising the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, requiring universal background checks, establishing a waiting period for all gun purchases and prohibiting civilian purchase of assault weapons.


Feuer has a long history of leading on gun control issues, from his early days on the L.A. City Council to his time in the state Legislature, and later in the city attorney’s office, where he co-chaired Prosecutors Against Gun Violence and took on ghost guns.

Portantino wrote several pieces of gun control legislation while in the state Senate and Assembly, including the aforementioned SB 2, which bars licensed gun holders from carrying their firearms into an array of public places. Friedman has also written gun safety legislation.

Martinez said he favored repealing restrictions so it’s easier for Americans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, as did Balekian, though he said he did not support any changes to federal gun laws.


Past coverage

Rep. Adam Schiff’s decision to run for Senate opened the floodgates, with 15 people vying to replace him and represent a district that includes a wide swath of Los Angeles, all of West Hollywood, Glendale and Burbank, and part of Pasadena.

Feb. 18, 2024

Actor Ben Savage’s campaign for Congress is the latest test of how much celebrity matters in American politics.

April 3, 2023

California’s 2024 Senate race has sent ripples down-ballot, as ambitious politicians eye soon-to-be vacant House seats in Los Angeles, Orange County and possibly the Bay Area.

Feb. 3, 2023

Maebe A. Girl is queer and pro-LGBTQ rights, but her platform doesn’t end there. She’s ready to take on ‘middle of the road’ Adam Schiff.

May 19, 2022

L.A. Times Editorial Board Endorsements

The Times’ editorial board operates independently of the newsroom — reporters covering these races have no say in the endorsements.


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