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Diane Edith Watson (born November 12, 1933), Americanmarker politician, has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 2001. She represents California's 33rd congressional district ( map). It is entirely in Los Angeles County and includes much of Central Los Angelesmarker, including some wealthy neighborhoods such as Los Felizmarker. She ran unopposed in the 2006 mid-term election.

Life before Congress

Born in Los Angeles, Californiamarker, Watson was raised Catholic. She was educated at Dorsey High School, Los Angeles City College and the University of California, Los Angelesmarker, where she earned her BA in Education (1956). Watson became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

She earned an MS from California State University, Los Angelesmarker in School Psychology (1987) and a PhD in Educational Administration from Claremont Graduate Universitymarker the same year. She also attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Universitymarker. Watson taught elementary school and was a school psychologist in the Los Angeles public schools. She has lectured at California State University, Long Beachmarker and California State University, Los Angelesmarker. She was a health occupation specialist with the California Department of Education's Bureau of Industrial Education.

Watson was elected to the California State Senate from 1978 to 1998. The longtime chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, she gained a reputation as an advocate for health care for the poor and children. Term limited, she was replaced by Kevin Murray.

In 1992, Watson ran for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. After a hard-fought campaign that often turned negative, Watson narrowly lost to former Supervisor Yvonne Burke, who was supported by U.S. Representative Maxine Waters.

President Bill Clinton appointed her United States Ambassador to Micronesiamarker in 1999.

US House committee assignments


  • Chair of the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus
  • Co-chair of the Congressional Korea Caucus
  • Co-chair of the U.S.-UK Caucus
  • Congressional Black Caucus

Views in Congress

Congresswoman Watson supports withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, opposes media consolidation, supports expanding welfare coverage and opposed President Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security. Watson opposed the Bush tax cuts, saying they were unaffordable.

She was one of the 31 members of the House who voted not to count the electoral votes from Ohiomarker in the United States presidential election, 2004.

In 2006, the National Journal ranked Watson as the most liberal member of Congress.

On the issue of Cherokee Freedmen membership in the Cherokee tribe, Watson noted that 20,000 Cherokee lived in California. She opposed the Cherokee Nation's March 2007 vote to amend its constitution to limit membership to only those descendants with at least one Indian ancestor on the Dawes Roll. She noted that when freedmen were granted citizenship in the tribe in 1866 by a treaty which the Cherokees made with the US government, it was without restriction to those freedmen with Indian ancestry.

Appeals to the Cherokee Nation's position were pending, in part because the tribe excluded descendants of Cherokee freedmen and intermarried whites from voting on the amendment. In June 2007 Watson introduced a bill to sever US relations with the tribe and revoke its gaming privileges unless the Cherokee restored membership in the tribe to descendants of Cherokee freedmen. She is a strong supporter of the health care system in Cuba and the Cuban Revolution.

Support of Clinton over Obama

In the 2008 Democratic primary, Watson's district went overwhelmingly for Illinoismarker Senator Barack Obama by a margin of 61-29. As a superdelegate, Watson continued to support New Yorkmarker Senator Hillary Clinton.

Watson defeated her challengers in the California June 3 primary, and defeated Republican David Crowley in the November 4, 2008, election.

On the issue of Mixed Race Classification

When, in 1988, the U.S. government proposed the addition of the category of "bi-racial" or "multiracial" to official documents and statistics, some African American organizations and African American leaders such as Watson and Representative Augustus Hawkins were particularly vocal in their rejection and opposition of the category. They feared massive defection from the African American self-designation.


  1. Representative Diane E. Watson (CA) from Project Vote Smart
  2. War in Iraq: 2006
  3. Corporate Media and the FCC
  4. High-Priced Republican Welfare Plan Puts the Burden on States
  5. How will President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security impact America and the 33rd District of California?
  7. National Journal - Composite Liberal Score

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