- Former Democratic leader of California state senate
- Led Los Angeles high-school students in pro-illegal immigration rallies
- Staunch advocate of union interests
Born on July 10, 1955, Democrat Gloria Romero was a state Senate Majority leader from California, representing the state’s largely Latino legislative district number 24. First elected to the State Assembly in 1998 and then to the Senate in a special election in March 2001, Romero had consistently embraced leftist positions on issues ranging from immigration to the Iraq war and advocated economic policies favored by unions.
A self-styled champion of “prison reform,” Romero had regularly opposed tough penalties for dangerous felons. She was a leading opponent of California’s 1994 three-strikes law, which imposed life sentences without the possibility of parole for certain repeat felons. In November of 2005, she met with soon-to-be-executed death-row inmate Stanley “Tookie” Williams, and importuned Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency to the killer of four. With the backing of the ACLU, Romero has also pushed legislation that would make it easier for reporters to arrange one-on-one interviews with specific inmates, a measure that many leftist activists believe is necessary to expose the supposedly unjust conditions obtaining in American prisons.
A onetime psychology professor at California State University in Los Angeles and a member of the California Faculty Association, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, Romero has devoted much of her political career to pushing the interests of the state’s powerful labor unions. She has supported legislation forcing employers to provide unemployment benefits to striking workers and has supported increasing California’s minimum wage–already among the highest in the country–to $7.25. Romero has sided with the union-led opposition to Wal-Mart retail stores and has introduced union-backed legislation that would have made it difficult for private prisons, which employ nonunion workers, to construct new jails in California. As a reward for her loyalty to union interests, between 1999 and 2004 Romero earned a perfect 100 percent approval rating from the California Labor Federation, the state’s 1,200-union division of the AFL-CIO. A review of Romero’s political fundraising committee similarly shows that most of her support came from unions, among them the California Federation of Teachers, the Los Angeles Faculty College Guild, and the Teamsters Union.
Romero is also a longtime antiwar activist. In August of 2005, she took part in a Los Angeles anti-war demonstration. Billed under the slogan “U.S. Out of Iraq & Latin America Now,” the rally also protested the presence of military recruiters in Los Angeles-area high schools. Besides Romero, participants in the march included union leaders, the Chicano group MEChA, and the Marxist-Leninist International Action Center. In March of 2006, Romero joined several Hollywood celebrities and union officials as a speaker at a California protest against the Iraq War. Romero is also listed as an endorser of the Campaign for a New Foreign Policy, a project of the Peace Action Network. The Campaign calls for the United States to unilaterally “destroy the stockpiles” of its nuclear weapons; cease its funding of missile defense programs; and abide by the rulings of the International Criminal Court.
Romero had used her position as one of California’s highest-ranking legislators to promote the cause of illegal immigration. In March of 2006, she announced in a press release that she would lead a delegation of students from East Los Angeles to City Hall in a protest against restrictions on illegal immigration. Explaining that she was motivated by her “mother instinct,” Romero challenged police attempting to get students back to their school. “I told the cops to back off, to let them be,” Romero said. Saying that she was “not there to tell them to go to the classroom,” Romero boasted that she was “proud to walk alongside a new generation of student activists.”
Romero stepped down from her post as Majority Leader of the California State Senate in 2008. She was also term limited from her position as a Democratic member of the California State Senate in 2010.