Doris Matsui Enters Special Election

Posted January 12, 2005 at 3:08pm

Doris Matsui, widow of the late Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.), today summoned reporters to her Sacramento home and told them she was formally entering the special election to replace her husband.

Matsui, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and former Clinton administration official, became the first candidate to enter the March 8 all-party primary.

She was promptly endorsed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Doris and Bob Matsui shared a love for the people of Sacramento, and Doris will build upon Bob’s outstanding work in Congress,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The people of Sacramento will have an exceptional representative in Doris Matsui.”

Congressman Matsui died unexpectedly on New Year’s Day of complications from a rare blood disorder. The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was 63.

Although his 60-year-old widow is expected to enjoy support from most of the D.C. Democratic establishment, at least two prominent party members are mulling getting into the race by the Jan. 24 filing deadline.

State Sen. Deborah Ortiz and former California Secretary of Human Services Grantland Johnson told The Sacramento Bee separately this week that they may run.

Both were close to the Congressman: Johnson spoke at his memorial service in Sacramento on Saturday, and Ortiz closed a session of the state Senate last week in Matsui’s honor.

Ortiz, who is prevented from seeking another term in the state Senate due to term limits, has already filed to run for state treasurer in 2006.

Johnson, a former Sacramento city councilman, became the first black member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in 1987. He is currently director for community and economic development at the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

Johnson, 56, sounded like a candidate in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “I think my experience and my vision, in comparison to any of the other candidates, I think I’m the best candidate,” he said. Johnson has not been on a ballot since 1990, however. He said the most he has ever raised for a campaign was $350,000, when he was first elected to the county board.

If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the top finishers from each major political party will advance to a runoff on May 3.