A Look at the Career of Richard Polanco, with Dan Morain

Dan Morain and Richard Polanco; image from the Oral History.

CAPITOL WEEKLY PODCAST: Richard Polanco served 16 years in the legislature, eight years in each house. Elected to the Assembly in 1986, he soon began efforts to build the Latino coalition in the legislature, ultimately helping expand the number of Latino legislators from seven members to 24 by the time he left office in 2002.

Polanco was a shrewd and energetic organizer who grew Latino political power just as anti-immigrant sentiment swept the state, culminating in the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994. As Republicans celebrated the win (ultimately overturned by the courts), Polanco and his allies worked to identify and support strong Latino candidates; their success in building the Latino Caucus helped pave the way for the Assembly’s first Latino Speaker of the modern era, Cruz Bustamante, in 1996.

Polanco is the subject of a new video Oral History produced by Open California and available at CapitolWeekly.Net. Journalist and author Dan Morain covered Polanco’s career for the Los Angeles Times and conducted the interview for the oral history. He joined Capitol Weekly’s Rich Ehisen and Tim Foster to talk about Polanco’s career and legacy, and offered up his thoughts on who had The Worst Week in CA Politics.

Show Notes

1:33 Not always a collegial relationship

2:27 “Emerged as a power player in 1994…”

3:09 Origins

5:00 “This was his calling”

6:26 Prop. 187

8:15 The influence of Ronald Reagan on the growth of Latino power

11:24 Saturday Night Special ban

12:32 Diversifying the Third House

13:45 The potential of Indian Gaming

15:14 Cruz Bustamante

16:58 The rise of CA prisons

22:12 #WWCA: Water hoses, Santos supporters, corrupt city councilmembers, Kevin Cooper, and more

25:50 Who’s next up for the Oral History program?

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