Experts Expound

Experts Expound: The power of Legislative caucuses

Capitol caucuses, image by Andrii Yalanskyi

Both the Senate and Assembly have several caucuses beyond the main party caucuses: Rural Caucus, Latino Caucus, Jewish Caucus, Black Caucus, LGBTQ Caucus, etc. But which wields the most power behind the scenes? We asked our experts to weigh in.

Which legislative caucus – excluding the two main party caucuses – is currently the most powerful?

“Hands down the Mod Caucus. They coalesce around issues and throw their weight around on a regular basis to block/pass key bills.”

“This is not close. The Latino Caucus is the one with power now and the potential for more in the future. They have demographics on their side. They just need to have a team that can implement the path forward.”

“Because of the numbers — which are growing — I think the Latino Caucus is usually most powerful. But it also depends on the issue.”

“Latino.”

“Mod Dems (also called new Dems); Women’s Caucus; LGBT; Latino; API; the rest are just window dressing.  Black Caucus might become more powerful in 2024 with the new leadership.”

“Each caucus has a role, but their power ebbs and flows with their chair and whether they choose to wield that power. The LGBTQ+ caucus has been the most powerful recently, edging out the Black Caucus in the past two years.”

“API Caucuses.  Very focused to accomplish their stated goals.  You didn’t ask but in my opinion the Women’s caucus is the least effective.”

“Each special caucus has its share of talented Members, but it gets down to numbers—and there are more members of the Latino Caucus than the others. At some point, the Dems have to figure out what to do with the emerging Republican members who are Latino, since they don’t factor in with the Latino Caucus. I’d give an ‘honorable mention’ award to the LGBTQ caucus.”

“The momentum and size of the Latino Caucus should make it the most powerful, but instead makes it less focused than smaller ones like the LGBTQ and Black caucuses. The Women’s Caucus has managed to keep their large numbers focused on shared priorities, but losing Atkins (and possibly Skinner) is a setback. The Rural Caucus would be more influential with a lower ratio of Republicans.”

“Latino Caucus has consistently been at or near the top for some time now. They’re a large caucus, with numerous members serving in leadership and when they decide to get behind a bill they are very impactful. Both the Mod Caucus and the LGTBQ caucuses can carry a lot of weight – and can certainly kill a bill when they set a target. The Women’s Caucus comes in next IMO. Hopefully as they continue to grow in size, they can grow in impact as well. Honorable mention: The Jewish Caucus. They don’t always engage, but when they do people listen.”

The people from whom we solicited opinions: Elizabeth Ashford, Hector Barajas, A.G. Block, Barry Brokaw, Samantha Corbin, Jon Costantino, Richard Costigan, Tim Foster, Rex Frazier, John Howard, Fiona Hutton, Gale Kaufman, Steven Maviglio, Mike MeCey, Paul Mitchell, Barbara O’Connor, Jack Ohman, Kassy Perry, Matt Rexroad, Garry South, Paula Treat, Bill Wong, Daniel Zingale

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