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Updated: Xavier Becerra has lots of boosters hoping he becomes U.S. trade rep

December 3, 2008 |  7:39 pm

Xavier Becerra might become Barack Obama’s U.S. trade representative.

Then again, he might not.

Aides to the president-elect and the Los Angeles congressman won’t say.California Democratic congressman Xavier Becerra

But numerous California politicos assume he will get the post, and the race is on for the coveted Becera House seat -- especially since likely candidates are looking at their political mortality in the form of term limits.

Names include Supervisor Gloria Molina, state Sen. Gil Cedillo and Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, each of whom represents parts of Becerra’s district, which includes the heart of Los Angeles.

Update: Candidates would vie in a special election to fill Becerra's seat, should it become vacant. Molina spokeswoman Roxane Marquez said the supervisor has no plans to run for Congress. “She was flattered, but she’s content where she is, and feels she still has a lot of work to do,’’ Marquez said.

Molina could run for another four-year board term. Others, particularly those serving in Sacramento, face more immediate fates.

“I am definitely considering it,” Cedillo said. “I am beginning the process of consulting people who have supported me over the years, including my family.”

The 54-year-old Cedillo has represented the area for the last decade as an assemblyman and senator. He has two years left in his current and final state Senate term, and could run for another two-year Assembly term.

Cedillo, who has deep labor ties, has become most identified....

...with efforts to help illegal immigrants obtain driver’s licenses. If he were elected to Congress, he said, he would use the position as a “platform to bring immigrants into our society.”

Other officeholders mentioned as possible candidates include Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, who recently was elected to his second term in the lower house, and Assemblyman John Perez, first elected in November. Assembly members are limited to three two-year terms.

Garcetti faces term limits too, albeit not immediately. He told Times reporter Phil Willon today it was premature to speculate on a congressional run because, at the moment, Becerra still represents the district and is influential within the House Democratic leadership.

Becerra, who's 50, won his ninth term, running unopposed in November in a district where 59% of the voters are Democratic and 70% of the population is Latino.

By accepting the position of U.S. trade representative, Becerra would be giving up two coveted posts. He recently was elected vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and is rising in seniority on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Becerra, a Stanford-educated attorney, ran for Los Angeles mayor in 2001. In an interview, former Sen. Richard Polanco said Becerra, who has young daughters, recently told him he was considering returning to California, perhaps to seek office in Los Angeles.

Obama, meanwhile, appointed a second political figure with downtown Los Angeles roots. Former Assemblyman Louis Caldera will direct the White House Military Office, overseeing 2,000 military personnel who provide transportation and other services for the president.

Caldera, a Harvard-educated attorney and West Point graduate who grew up in Los Angeles, represented the city in the 1990s before joining President Clinton’s administration and eventually becoming Army secretary.

-- Dan Morain

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