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Lois Capps

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Title: Lois Capps  
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Subject: California's 23rd congressional district, United States congressional delegations from California, California's 22nd congressional district, Walter Capps, United States House of Representatives elections, 2014
Collection: 1938 Births, American Lutherans, American Nurse-Politicians, American People of Norwegian Descent, California Democrats, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Living People, Members of the United States House of Representatives from California, Pacific Lutheran University Alumni, People from Rusk County, Wisconsin, Spouses of California Politicians, Spouses of Members of the United States House of Representatives, University of California, Santa Barbara Alumni, Women in California Politics, Yale Divinity School Alumni, Yale University Alumni
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Lois Capps

Lois Capps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 24th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Elton Gallegly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Elton Gallegly
Succeeded by Kevin McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd district
In office
March 17, 1998 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Walter Capps
Succeeded by Bill Thomas
Personal details
Born (1938-01-10) January 10, 1938
Ladysmith, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Walter Capps (1960–1997, his death)
Children 3
Residence Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Alma mater Pacific Lutheran University
Yale University
University of California, Santa Barbara
Occupation College professor
Religion Lutheran

Lois Ragnhild Grimsrud Capps (born January 10, 1938) is the U.S. Representative for California's 24th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1998. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 22nd District from 1998 to 2003 and the 23rd from 2003 to 2013, includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a portion of Ventura County.

Capps serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she is a member of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Health. She is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.


  • Background 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
    • Elections 2.1
  • Tenure 3
    • Legislation sponsored 3.1
    • Committee assignments 3.2
    • Caucus membership 3.3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Born Lois Ragnhild Grimsrud in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, the daughter of Solveig Magdalene (née Gullixson) and Rev. Jurgen Milton Grimsrud, her father was a Lutheran minister. Both of her parents' families came from Norway.[1] She has lived in Santa Barbara since 1964. She was educated at Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She earned a master's degree in religion at Yale Divinity School in 1964[2] and a master's degree in education at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 1960, while at Yale, she married Walter Capps, a divinity student at Yale who later became a prominent religious studies professor at UCSB; they eventually had three children. Walter died in 1997 and their eldest daughter Lisa died in 2000. Lois Capps worked for 20 years as a nurse and health advocate for the Santa Barbara public schools and also taught early childhood education part-time at Santa Barbara City College.

U.S. House of Representatives


Walter Capps was elected to Congress in 1996 in a rematch of his 1994 race against Republican Andrea Seastrand. However, he died of a heart attack on October 28, 1997, only nine months into his term. His widow won the then-22nd District seat by defeating Republican Tom Bordonaro in a special election on March 10, 1998. She was sworn into the 105th Congress on March 17. Lois Capps successfully defended her seat against Bordonaro in a general election later that year, and commenced her first full term in office. Capps is one of two sitting representatives to be elected to their seats following the deaths of their husbands, along with Doris Matsui (D-CA).

In 2000, Capps retained the 22nd district seat, defeating Republican Mike Stoker with 53% of the vote. She was the first Democrat to hold the district for more than one term in over 50 years (the district, known as the 11th from its formation in 1943 until 1953, the 13th from 1953 to 1975 and the 19th from 1975 to 1993, had been held by Republicans from 1947 until Walter Capps was sworn in 1997).

Capps' district was renumbered as the 23rd after the 2000 census and made somewhat safer, and she was reelected without serious opposition in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Her district was renumbered as the 24th District after the 2010 census.[3] David Wasserman, House editor of The Cook Political Report, predicted that this would be a more difficult race, and local Republicans confirmed that Capps was one of their top targets in California.[4] The reconfigured district still includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, but was redrawn to include most of the more Republican inland areas of Santa Barbara County.[5] Capps eventually beat her opponent, Abel Maldonado, with 54.8% of the vote.[6]

In 2014, Capps ran against Republican Chris Mitchum, an actor, screenwriter, and businessman. Mitchum is the son of legendary film star Robert Mitchum. This was Mitchum's second consecutive try for the 24th district, having previously lost the 2012 primary to Abel Maldonado.[7] In the closest race of her entire congressional career, Capps ultimately won with only a 3.8% margin over Mitchum.[8]

Capps announced in April 2015 that she would not seek reelection in 2016.[9]


Capps has been described as a "solid liberal". In The Washingtonian magazine's 2006 "Best and Worst of Congress" poll of congressional staffers, Capps was named the nicest member of Congress.[10]

In 2011, Capps voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 as part of a controversial provision that allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[11]

Health care

Capps supported the Obama administration's economic stimulus and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[12] She was strongly critical of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment to the latter, which placed limits on taxpayer-funding of abortions (except in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life). Capps had earlier sponsored the Capps Amendment, which was defeated and replaced by the Stupak Amendment. Capps introduced the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013 which would, if enacted, authorize the NIH to support, fund, and coordinate data from research on rare pediatric diseases.

Foreign policy

In 2012, she was the only member of the House to vote "no" on Resolution 556 to condemn the government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani of the charge of apostasy. The resolution passed 417-1 with 15 non-votes.[13] Her spokeswoman later said that Capps strongly supported the resolution, but cast the no vote by mistake.[14]

Environmental policy

Capps has a major interest in environmental policy. In 2004, the House passed her piece of legislation to prohibit "comprehensive inventory of oil and gas resources beneath the outer continental shelf." She was also a vocal opponent of drilling for oil in the Los Padres National Forest and offshore drilling off the coast of California.[10]

Legislation sponsored

Committee assignments

Caucus membership

  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues
  • Co-Chair of the National Marine Sanctuary Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Coastal Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition
  • Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Infant Health and Safety
  • Founded the Congressional Nursing Caucus
  • Founded the School Health and Safety Caucus


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lois Capps 1964 M.A.R. 2004 Distinction in Community Service
  3. ^ "Capps Running for Re-Election in New Central Coast Congressional District". Re-Elect Lois Capps. July 29, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Jean Merl and Richard Simon (December 11, 2011). "New district maps threaten Republicans' seats in Congress". LA Times. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Official California vote count
  9. ^ Hulse, Carl (April 8, 2015). "Representative Lois Capps Announces Retirement". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ a b "Rep. Lois Capps (D)". Almanac. National Journal. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "California 23rd District Profile". The New York Times. 2010-10-29. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  13. ^ "House Resolution 556". 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  14. ^ "House condemns Iran for imprisonment of Christian minister". New Orleans Times-Picayune. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "H.R. 3008 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (27 January 2014). "Oooommm... House votes to give federal land to yoga foundation". The Hill. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter Capps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Thomas
Preceded by
Elton Gallegly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Kevin McCarthy
Preceded by
Elton Gallegly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 24th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Gregory Meeks
D-New York
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Barbara Lee
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