Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/07/2012 12:49:36 PM PST
Updated: 11/07/2012 10:49:23 PM PST

When Congress and the state Legislature convene for their next session, they will do so without a member of the Baca family having been elected to either institution for the first time in two decades.

Inland Empire voters on Tuesday ousted Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, from Congress, handing the victory to state Sen. Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Montclair.

Baca was first elected to the House of Representatives in a 1999 special election. Voters put Baca in the Assembly in 1992.

In another inland race, the congressman’s son, Joe Baca Jr., lost his bid to rejoin the Assembly. The younger Baca finished behind publishing executive Cheryl Brown in the 47th Assembly District.

In other Inland Valley and San Bernardino area contests, voters tended to support candidates who were either incumbents or favored by establishment interests.

The races involving the Bacas, however, were an exception. Despite having the support of the California Democratic Party, the Bacas were defeated by Democratic opponents who, in both cases, had considerable support from outside interests.

The amount of outside spending in the Baca-versus-McLeod race is among the more dramatic examples of the role that Super PACs played in the 2012 election. Independence USA, a Super PAC reported to be affiliated with billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent nearly $3.3 million in their work to give McLeod a job on Capitol Hill.

To put that in perspective, McLeod herself raised roughly $300,000 for her campaign this year, according to the most recent summary of federal campaign filings from the Center for Responsive Politics. Baca raised nearly $950,000 in direct contributions.

The upshot is that Baca said he didn’t really lose to the candidate whose name appeared next to his on the ballot.

“If I would have ran against my opponent, I would have beaten her,” Baca said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Bloomberg and the Super PAC beat me, not her.”

McLeod did not provide comment for this report despite requests.

Bloomberg supports gun control and a flurry of charged Independence USA mailings sent late in the campaign attacked Baca for his pro-gun stances.

Baca held a news conference on Friday to protest the ad blitz, and Wednesday reaffirmed his view that the Super PAC’s ads amounted to propaganda.

Super PACs like Independence USA are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose chosen candidates as long as they don’t coordinate electioneering efforts with those candidates.

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