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|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 21st district
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
|Preceded by||James C. Corman|
|Succeeded by||Elton Gallegly|
Roberta Frances Horowitz
April 22, 1937
Santa Monica, California
|Died||March 3, 2019 (aged 81)|
|Alma mater||Santa Monica City College|
Born Roberta Frances Horowitz in Santa Monica, California on April 22, 1937, Fiedler attended area public schools. Studies continued at Santa Monica Technical School (1955–1957) and Santa Monica City College (1955–1959).
Fiedler formed her political identity at Encino's Lanai Road Elementary School, where she mobilized other mothers to protest court-ordered desegregation busing. Fiedler formed an organization called Bustop in 1976, and the organization grew to 30,000 members in weeks. Fiedler's role in the grass-roots group helped propel her to public office, as she won a surprising upset in 1977 against Los Angeles school board president Robert Docter, who favored desegregation busing. While serving on the Los Angeles (City) Board of Education, Fiedler and fellow board member Roberta Weintraub were fierce opponents of desegregation busing.
In 1980, Fiedler ran as a Republican (GOP) for Congress against Democrat James C. Corman, who had served 20 years in Congress. Fiedler was an underdog, running against Corman in a district that was 62% Democratic, and with the incumbent next in line to be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. But in a year in which Reagan's coattails drew large numbers of Democratic voters to the GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee targeted Corman, hoping not to defeat him, but to embarrass him. Desegregation busing was the central issue in the election between Fiedler and Corman. Time magazine reported on the campaign as follows: "Again the issue is local: busing that was ordered by the California Supreme Court in 1977 to desegregate public schools in Los Angeles County.
Corman's campaign manager, Clint Reilly, later recalled that his candidate's position on racial integration drew heavy fire from Fiedler, whom he described as "the leader of LA's anti-busing movement." Reilly noted that the Republican Party raised more than a million dollars for Fiedler, and "the campaign was waged in the racially charged atmosphere of the San Fernando Valley." After a fierce campaign in which Corman was often picketed by anti-integration activists, the candidates entered election day in a dead heat in the polls, and Corman lost to Fiedler by 750 votes out of 200,000 cast.
Fiedler was one of several Jewish woman who has been elected to Congress from California; she was followed in 1982 by Barbara Boxer and in 1992 by Jane Harman. (The first woman elected from California was Florence Prag Kahn of San Francisco in 1924.) Fiedler considered herself an independent Republican, breaking with her party over her support for abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment.
After her narrow victory in 1980, Fiedler was re-elected in 1982, defeating Democrat George Henry Margolis 71.8% to 24.1%. She won in another landslide in 1984, defeating Charlie Davis 72.3% to 25.9%.
U.S. Senate campaignEdit
In 1986, Fiedler did not run for re-election to the House of Representatives, opting instead to make what proved to be an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination to challenge three-term Democratic incumbent Alan Cranston for his United States Senate seat.
She was charged with political corruption in January 1986 after an undercover investigation allegedly showed that Fiedler offered $100,000 to a rival, State Senator Ed Davis (R), if he would withdraw from the Republican senatorial primary. The charges were dismissed by Judge Robert Altman before the matter went to trial. Despite the dismissal of the charges in February 1986, Fiedler garnered only 7.2% of the vote in the Republican primary.
Fiedler died in Northridge, California on March 3, 2019.
- "Next Vote Eyed". The Press-Courier. June 2, 1977. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Louis Sandy Maisel, Ira N. Forman and Donald Altschiller (2001). Jews in American Politics. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Roger M. Grace, "Reiner, on Vacation, Incommunicado, Puts Powers of DA's Office in Garcetti's Hands," Metropolitan News-Enterprise, December 9, 2009, page 7
- "Obituary, Roberta "Bobbi" Frances Fiedler". Dignitymemorial.com. Houston, TC: Dignity Memorial. March 3, 2019.