Kika del la Garza and his wife, Lucille recall a very different time in Congress as they visit with us in their McAllen,Texas home. A time when they had more friends who were republicans, even though they were staunch Democrats. Following six consecutive terms in Austin, de la Garza was elected as a democrat to the US House of representatives from the 15th District. His congressional career spanned 32 years, from 1965 through 1997. In 1976 del La Garza became a founding member of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus where he served as chairman from 1989 to 1991. He became the first Hispanic since 1917 to chair a standing committee in the House when he was elected chairman of the committee on Agriculture—serving from 1981 to 1994.
Retired Congressman, Ben Knighthorse Campbell mirrors de la Garza’s recollections of a time when friendships were quite common across the aisle, and a time when consensus was a common theme in the process of getting legislation passed. Campbell’s political career commenced when he was elected to the Colorado State Legislature as a Democrat in 1982. Following two terms in the state house, Campbell was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served from 1987 to 1993, and he eventually switched to the Republican Party. Campbell was the first Native American elected to the U.S. Senate in more than 60 years, serving from 1993 to 2005 as a Republican. Campbell’s tenure, as both a congressman and senator, was etched with an unflagging advocacy for Native American causes and a strong belief in cultural self-determination.