Carla Marinucci

Carla Marinucci

Carla Marinucci
Updated 11:22 pm, Sunday, January 13, 2013

While California did not determine the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, the state had no shortage of political dramas last year, from the state’s budget woes to the debut of the “top two” primary election ballots that send candidates with the most votes, regardless of political party, to the general election in November.

Voters responded by dumping one longtime incumbent, Rep. Pete Stark, D-San Lorenzo, in favor of a fellow Democrat in the East Bay.

At the same time, many of the winning candidates were backed by California’s growing ethnic voting blocs – particularly Latino and Asian American voters – that underscore extensive demographic changes that began in California and are sweeping the nation.

Here are 10 politicians to watch this year. Some of them are mavericks, some are veterans, and some are promising newcomers.

Rep. Darrell Issa: The San Diego County Republican, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been the GOP’s unwavering watchdog and a headache to the Obama administration. Issa has led three dozen investigations and has won the admiration of Republicans by providing what has been lauded as “robust oversight.” Democrats might call it overkill, but Issa’s work makes him a player to keep an eye on.

Rep. Ami Bera: The only Indian American serving in the House of Representatives, the Sacramento-area Democrat defeated a GOP name brand, Rep. Dan Lungren. With Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal the only other major Indian American public official, Bera has a high-profile platform to score political and financial support from a fast-growing community with growing political clout.

Jim Brulte: The former Republican Senate leader from Rancho Cucamonga (San Bernardino County) is a highly respected moderate voice of reason in the GOP. He has been all but formally named as the next state chairman of the party. Brulte, a force in Sacramento for years, has clout with donors and the support of power players – but he’ll need a lot of help in reviving a Republican Party heading into the ICU.

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