12/20/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

California Hangs In Balance Of Mid-Term Election

For most of the 20th century, California had virtually no role in congressional leadership. The all-powerful committee chairs were from the South, the rust belt, and the northeast. Even though California was fast-growing and a substantial contributor to the nation's power, the "pork" and federal attention disproportionately found its way to states such as Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and Massachusetts because that's where the committee chairs and speakers were from. Nancy Pelosi made history not only as the first woman to ascend to the high office of Speaker, but as the first Californian.

Obviously, if the Democrats lose control of Congress next month, Madame Speaker will become Madame Spoken. But so much more is at stake. Four California members of the House of Representatives chair some of the most powerful of that body's committees. Two of the most powerful are from Los Angeles, the first time L.A. and not just San Francisco has had that kind of influence. They'd all be gone.

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