Rosario Marin, the
first naturalized citizen to become U. S. Treasurer will be leaving that
post in June, and the expectation is that she will challenge Barbara Boxer
for the U.S. Senate. Her bio is available at
In California, the president is
relatively popular among Hispanics. His approval rating among Hispanics
exceeds his approval rating of the population as a whole. Having Rosario
Marin on the ticket would benefit both candidates.
Bush seen as key against Boxer. GOP
strategists say departing U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, the Bush
administration's highest-ranking Latin American woman, could become a
formidable contender for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat in 2004 if the
president lends substantial support. Marin, 44, has helped lead
administration efforts to attract Hispanic voters. With significant
fund-raising and campaign help from Bush, Mexican-born Marin could threaten
the hard-line pro-abortion Boxer's support among pro-family, pro-life Latino
The usually Democrat-leaning Field poll last month showed Boxer holding
44/39 percent favorable/unfavorable ratings, with 43 percent of voters
inclined "not" to vote for her re-election.
Ex-treasurer mulls running for Senate
Marin seen as possible GOP contender
Monday, May 26, 2003 -
Days before she announced her resignation as U.S. treasurer, Rosario
Marin led a visitor out of her peach-colored Pennsylvania Avenue office,
then paused abruptly to grab a bowl of chocolate coins.
"I like to say whoever visits the Treasury leaves a little bit richer,'
the former mayor of Huntington Park said with a laugh.
The easy smile, the warmth, the energy it's all part of the package
Republicans hope will make Marin a strong 2004 candidate for the U.S. Senate
Not to mention that Marin is a Mexican-born Latina with a Horatio Alger
life story, and a Republican who was elected to local office in a Democratic
Southern California city.
As treasurer, her name appears on each of the $158 million in bills the
government prints each day. But can Marin, who has never raised more than
$32,287 for an election, come up with the kind of cash necessary to unseat
Democrat Barbara Boxer?
"On paper, she brings a lot to the table a good resume, a Hispanic woman.
It's the kind of profile that really could give Boxer a good race,' said
Jennifer Duffy, a Senate analyst for the Cook Political Report. "But, where
is she going to get $20 million?'
California's 2004 primary is still nine months away, and most political
attention now is trained on the recall attempt of Gov. Gray Davis. In the
background, though, the list of candidates vying to defeat Boxer continues
But when Marin, 44, announced Thursday she will resign June 30 to return
to California for unspecified reasons the revelation followed on the heels
of Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, suddenly deciding not to run for Senate the
rumors of her candidacy increased.
Several GOP consultants said Marin's mind is all but made up.
"She's not leaving a nice job for nothing,' one Republican strategist
Marin, who delivered the keynote speech at Friday's commencement at
Whittier College, still isn't speaking about her political intentions. In a
recent interview at her office in the U.S. Treasury Department, where the
coffee table is stacked with books on Mexican art, she expounded on the
importance of financial literacy, especially in Latino communities, and the
need for a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship.
As for her political future in California, Marin said only, "A lot of
people have sought to talk to me regarding this issue. I've been very
honored, very privileged. There seems to be a lot of people who are
clamoring for a change.'
She declined interviews after announcing her resignation.
Often described as a moderate, the two most-repeated political
descriptions of Marin are that she is pro-choice and that she supported
President Bush's initial proposal for a $726 billion tax cut this year.
Yet most Californians know little else about her views. Though she worked
under former Gov. Pete Wilson for seven years, Marin said she opposed
Proposition 187, a 1994 initiative that sought to bar many public services
to illegal immigrants.
Asked about current political issues, like Gov. Gray Davis' budget plan
that includes an $8.3 billion annual boost in taxes, she laughs again.
"I'm going to get in trouble, so I better not.'
Ask any California Republican strategist about Marin's strengths, and
invariably the answer is, "She's got a great story to tell.'
It begins in Mexico City where, according to Marin, "I didn't know we
were poor. I lived in a rich house with lots and lots of love.'
When Marin was 15, her father moved the family to Huntington Park, a city
of 60,000, four miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The label-making
company for which her father worked provided the visas.
She entered high school not speaking a word of English and, because of
that, was judged to have an IQ of 27.
"Instead of making me feel angry or upset, it just gave me the resolve to
learn English right away, and well,' she recalled. Marin studied English by
day in the classroom and at night with her ear pressed to the radio. She
graduated, went to work in a Beverly Hills bank, put herself through college
at night and became an American citizen.
She married and gave birth to a son with Down syndrome. Her son, Eric,
now 17, inspired Marin to activism. She started a support group for Latino
parents of children with Down syndrome and testified in the state
Legislature on the developmentally disabled.
In 1992, Wilson hired her as a legislative analyst for the Department of
Developmental Services. She later was appointed to the state Council on
Developmental Disabilities and, in 1997, was hired as a deputy director of
Wilson's Los Angeles office of community relations.
In between, she won her first term on the Huntington Park City Council.
It wasn't until she ran for re-election in 1999 that Marin's politics became
controversial. While she said then, as now, that she opposed Proposition
187, her critics maintained she never voiced that opposition while working
"She may have privately said she wasn't for it, but she worked for him,'
said Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte. If Marin runs for U.S. Senate, Solis
said, "there's a lot of explaining that people are going to request of her.'
Fernando Guerra, a political science professor at the Center for the
Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, said he thinks Marin
will weather the storm.
"She can address that issue head-on, and the fact that when she worked
for Pete Wilson she did not agree with his policies,' Guerra said.
As a City Council member and mayor a position rotated among council
members in Huntington Park Marin was known for encouraging retail
development, promoting citizenship drives and winning friends among
Mayor Richard Loya, a Democrat, said if it comes down to deciding between
Marin and the incumbent Democrat Boxer he will be torn. And, he suspects, so
will many other Latino voters.
"Will they cross over for a Latina Republican? I don't know. But if they
were going to cross over, Rosario would be the one to draw them.'
Publicly, Republicans heap praise on Marin. Privately, many question her
"It's not like she can just pick up the phone and start dialing from her
Rolodex,' said Duffy, the Cook Political Report analyst, who noted that
Marin is not plugged into the business community, unlike other potential
candidates such as Rep. George Radanovich, R-Fresno, or Silicon Valley
entrepreneur Toni Casey.
Added Harry Pachon, president of the Claremont-based Tomas Rivera Policy
Institute: "It's paradoxical, isn't it, that the treasurer of the United
States may have trouble raising money?
"If she raises the money, it's going to be a very interesting election in
Lisa Friedman can be reached at (202) 662-8731.