Schiff again seizes national stage, while number of challengers grows at home


Democrats across the country hailed U.S. House Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) pointed exchange with former special counsel Robert Mueller during a televised hearing on Wednesday.

In addition to Russian meddling, the 2016 election is “a story about disloyalty to country, about greed and about lies,” Schiff told Mueller during the hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff chairs.

“Your investigation determined the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it,” he added.

It was the latest instance of the local U.S. representative seizing the national spotlight — which a growing number of congressional challengers pitch as a distraction from issues in his own backyard.

“I’ve been watching him lie to me and the rest of the country… about so-called Russian collusion for two years. The poor man has the worst case of Trump-derangement syndrome I’ve ever seen,” said Eric Early, one of five challengers — and one of two Republicans — currently vying to unseat Schiff in 2020 from California’s 28th district that includes Burbank, West Hollywood and parts of Glendale and central Los Angeles.

“We have a district that has all kinds of major problems that he’s not doing anything about,” added Early, a Republican who lost a bid for state Attorney General last year.

Recently endorsed by the Los Angeles County Republican Party, Early, 60, said he would make tackling homelessness one of his top priorities — a pledge echoed by other candidates.

Independent Jennifer Barbosa, 40, also said she would be focused “less on political vendettas in D.C.” on her campaign website.

An actress and former Hollywood neighborhood council member, Barbosa said she’d focus more on homelessness and addiction, as well as consumer privacy and immigration reform.

Republican Jon Hollis, a 29-year-old teamster, asks would-be supporters, “Fed up with Adam Schiff’s theatrical investigation?” on his campaign site.

“Even as Rep. Schiff has been a national voice on protecting our democracy and national security, he has been tireless in advancing local priorities — such as preserving open space, quality-of-life issues like helicopter and airplane noise, building the ShakeAlert early-warning system for earthquakes and supporting affordable housing and reducing homelessness,” Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, said in a statement released on Friday.

Meanwhile, Democrat Maebe A. Girl, 33, seeks to be the first transgender person elected to Congress, according to her campaign website.

Girl, a drag queen who serves on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, said she’s running as a voice for the LGBTQ community.

“[LGBTQ people] are just as valid as any other member of society, and as such we deserve to have representation: accurate, actual representation,” she told People. “That means having our community members being representatives — not just having somebody who is an ally.”

Early entered the race earlier this month, along with Girl and Hollis.

Barbosa and Democrat Akinyemi Agbede, a 65-year-old mathematician, threw in their bids for the congressional seat in March. Agbede unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 and 2018.

While Early said he thinks Schiff is a “vulnerable candidate,” the 10-term incumbent handily defeated Republican challenger Johnny Nalbandian in 2018.

During that election cycle, Schiff received 78.4% of the votes — one of the highest margins among congressional winners in Los Angeles and surrounding counties that year.

“His constituents have overwhelmingly reelected him because he is as dogged in fighting for issues that are close to home as he is in standing up for our national security and against attacks on our democracy,” Boland said.

Since Jan. 1, Schiff has raised more than $3 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Barbosa has raised $6,000 since April 1. There is no available contribution data for the other candidates.

Elections for the U.S. House will be held Nov. 3, 2020, with California’s primary set for March of that year. Candidates can enter the race until Dec. 6 of this year.