U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa heads into new Congress as member of the minority | TheUnion.com

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa heads into new Congress as member of the minority

The U.S. House of Representatives will be a changed place when Rep. Doug LaMalfa returns to the Capitol next year.

For the first time in eight years Democrats will have control of the lower house of Congress. It'll be the first time LaMalfa, a Republican who won a fourth term in November, will be in the minority.

However, it won't be a first for his political career. LaMalfa served eight years in the state Legislature under Democratic rule.

"The Republicans were always well in the minority there," he said.

Parties exchange power every few years, but the process remains the same. LaMalfa now expects Democrats will have more success moving bills through Congress, just as Republicans passed more legislation when they held control.

"You've got to be nimble," LaMalfa said. "I was able to do that on a state level. Because the switch flips from one to the other, it doesn't change the process, really."

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Having friends on either side of the aisle helps. LaMalfa said he attends a Wednesday morning doughnut breakfast, which builds relationships with people in the opposing party. People know the majority will change hands. That's why he treats people with respect.

"You find the common ground and you move forward," LaMalfa said.

Goals

Moving into the minority hasn't changed LaMalfa's goals.

The immediate need is the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, LaMalfa said. Proper forestry management and water storage top the list, as well.

"You're driving past all these towns and the fuel load all around them is quite dangerous," he said. "There's no reason to think this can't happen anywhere."

Focusing on water storage, LaMalfa said Lake Oroville is under half its historical average. Records state the lake was at 29 percent of capacity early Friday.

"We're in trouble on water," the congressman said.

Asked about immigration, LaMalfa called the issue "cut and dry."

This country must control its borders, LaMalfa said. Democrats cry "immigration" without differentiating between legal and illegal.

"I'm all for legal immigration," LaMalfa said. "Legal workers. It's people that did it the right way, instead of this sneaky back door way."

The election

LaMalfa won re-election last month against Democrat Audrey Denney by 160,046 to 131,548 votes, or 54.9 to 45.1 percent.

The congressman lost two counties this November — Nevada and Butte. It was a first for the congressman, who in his first three elections to Congress won every county in his district.

"If I'm outside of what their thought is, they'll do something else," LaMalfa said of future elections. "There's always shift in dynamic."

Seven California Republicans lost their House seats in the November election in what pundits have termed a "blue wave."

Denney had hoped to flip the District 1 seat for Democrats. She campaigned across northeast California and maintained a heavy online presence.

In the days before the election Denney decried a political ad of LaMalfa's featuring an altered photo of her signing a statement.

The original shows Denney pledging to reject money from big oil. The altered message shows Denny pledging "to support Nancy Pelosi and the Liberal Democrats that want to continue our tax increases."

LaMalfa said his campaign was mild compared to highly competitive races.

"It was a satirical poke," he said. "The opposition knows that, but they can be all wounded about it."

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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