Cedillo officially announced his candidacy for the 32nd Congressional District seat on January 8, 2009, which was vacated by Congresswoman Hilda Solis. Congresswoman Solis accepted an appointment from President-elect Barack Obama for United States Labor Secretary. Cedillo lost to Judy Chu, a former Monterey Park assemblywoman and vice-chairman of the State Board of Equalization. Despite Cedillo's longtime relationship with organized labor, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, voted to endorse Chu. Cedillo received a majority of other major endorsements, including eight members of California's Congressional Delegation, LA Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton, and more than 100 current and former public officials, including Senator Gloria Romero, Senator Ron Calderon, and Assemblymember Ed Chavez, who all dropped out of the race and endorsed Cedillo.
Cedillo was defeated in his 2009 bid for the 32d District seat. Chu received 15,338 votes (31.9%) while Cedillo received 11,244 votes, 31.9% to 23.4% in a primarily Latino district. Following his failed bid for U.S. Congress, Cedillo took over the California State Assembly's 45th District seat (which was vacated by Kevin DeLeon who won the 22d State Senate seat).
Cedillo served as chairman of California's Latino Congressional Caucus. In 2010, Cedillo authored California's SRC 113, a resolution for a statewide boycott of the State of Arizona, following Arizona's passage of SB 1070, an illegal immigration enforcement bill.
Cedillo is often referred to by opponents as "One Bill Gil," because of his repeated attempts to submit legislation authorizing California to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens.
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“If we should swap a good library for a second-rate stump speech and not ask for boot, it would be thoroughly in tune with our hearts. For deep within each of us lies politics. It is our football, baseball, and tennis rolled into one. We enjoy it; we will hitch up and drive for miles in order to hear and applaud the vitriolic phrases of a candidate we have already reckoned well vote against.”
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