Multiple Candidates Locked In Tight Race For California Representative Waxman’s Congressional Seat

Multiple Candidates Locked In Tight Race For California Representative Waxman’s Congressional Seat

By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Two of Southern California’s hottest congressional races were shaping up to be extremely close in early election night returns.

Gang prosecutor Elan Carr narrowly led the pack in the crowded field for an open, strongly Democratic Westside/South Bay seat. He was followed, in close order, by state Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance, former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and radio host Matt Miller, all Democrats, and spiritual teacher and best-selling author Marianne Williamson, an independent.

Contenders for an open Inland Empire seat also were running close together early in the ballot counting. Military veteran Paul Chabot, a Republican, was holding on to first place, with Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar in second.

Following a few votes behind were Colton attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, a Democrat, and congressional aide Lesli Gooch, a Republican. Former Representative Joe Baca was running behind but not out of contention.

Observers had predicted close races almost from the start.

These two races, to fill the seats of retiring Representatives Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Gary G. Miller (R-CA), were among roughly a dozen spirited House races in California this primary season.

The seats are among six in the state whose incumbents are packing it in after their current term ends. Other not seeking re-election are Representatives John Campbell (R-CA), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), George Miller (D-CA), and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA), who is running for San Bernardino County supervisor.

In the Central Valley and Northern California, there were several same-party fights, at least some of which will continue through the general election. Because of the state’s top-two primary system, only the first- and second-place finishers, regardless of party, advance to the fall ballot. Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) faced rigorous challenges from political comrades in arms.

The biennial, high-stakes battle for control of the House also was manifesting itself in about half a dozen California districts that, due to registration and voting patterns, could switch parties in the fall. Democrats’ hopes of recapturing the House majority this year are slim to nonexistent, most elections experts say.

But that won’t keep Democrats, who dominate state politics, from fighting to pick up another seat and defending those that could flip. The outlines of the fall battles have been seen for months, especially for seats held by freshmen who wrested them from the other party’s hands two years ago.

Vulnerable frosh are Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA).

The two Southern California races that drew the most attention — and spending — were for the seats being vacated by Waxman and Gary Miller.

Waxman’s district featured 18 hopefuls on Tuesday’s ballot (though two quit the race too late to remove their names), plus one write-in candidate.

The 33rd District, which includes beaches and the Santa Monica Mountains, is one of the wealthiest, most politically active enclaves in the nation. It has big pockets of liberal Democrats who reflect the Waxman’s politics and admire his achievements during 40 years in Congress.

He had a leading role in efforts to improve medical care, allow for generic drugs, clean up the air and preserve coastal and mountain environments. He also helped shepherd the Affordable Care Act through the House.

Waxman did not endorse a candidate.

In the closing days of the race, the Miller campaign slammed Greuel and Lieu. In political mailers to voters, he said that Greuel’s audits as L.A. controller “were overblown” and that Lieu “targeted Toyota … because he wanted to score political points.”

The giant Japanese automaker announced earlier this year that it would move its Torrance operations to Texas and take thousands of jobs with it.

Greuel’s mailers hit Lieu with accusations of taking “junkets paid for by lobbyists, foreign governments and special interests” and tried to tie him to the FBI sting operation that resulted in criminal bribery and corruption charges against Democratic state Senator Ronald S. Calderon.

Lieu kept his mailers mostly positive but managed to point out frequently that Greuel had only recently moved into the district.

The race for the Miller seat caused some consternation for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The House Democrats’ campaign arm had recruited Aguilar for another try after he and three other Democrats splintered the vote in the 2012 primary. That sent two Republicans to the fall ballot in what is essentially a Democratic district. The committee had hoped to clear the field but saw another four-Democrat fight take shape this year.

Aguilar found himself in a stiff competition with Reyes, who was backed by Emily’s List and other women’s groups as well as by several Democratic members of California’s House delegation. Baca, trying for a political comeback after losing his race in a neighboring district two years ago, raised relatively little money.
But a secretive organization called Cal Voters for Honest Government sent mail and made phone calls and may have been behind billboards touting Baca.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

Twenty-One File To Seek Rep. Henry Waxman’s Congressional Seat

Twenty-One File To Seek Rep. Henry Waxman’s Congressional Seat

By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES—As political frays go, the race to succeed longtime Rep. Henry Waxman is going to be a crowded, eclectic doozy.

No fewer than 21 people — most of them lacking any public profile — have applied to appear on the June 3 primary ballot in that contest.

The district the Beverly Hills Democrat is giving up after four decades in Congress is one of California’s most politically active, full of wealthy donors and home to many in L.A.’s signature entertainment industry.

With no limit on how many terms a representative can serve, an open House seat is relatively rare and likely to draw a crowd — just not usually this big.

The hopefuls include 11 Democrats — not surprising in a district with a vivid blue wash — four Republicans, one Libertarian, one Green Party member and four independents.

Waxman has long been the area’s liberal lion, pushing through major legislation on health care, clean air, food safety and consumer protections. His Jan. 30 announcement that he would not seek re-election caught most colleagues and observers by surprise and loosed a torrent of would-be successors.

Those who completed the multi-step process to run by Wednesday’s deadline can’t be assured of a place on the ballot until their paperwork is checked by Los Angeles County elections officials and certified by the secretary of State, whose deadline is March 27.

A spokeswoman for the county registrar said Thursday the list could still grow.

But some candidates have been campaigning since late fall, well before Waxman’s retirement announcement. Among them are spiritual teacher and bestselling author Marianne Williamson and TV producer-director Brent Roske, both running without any party affiliation.

The most politically experienced candidates are Democrats — former Los Angeles City Controller and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, state Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance and journalist and radio co-host Matt Miller, who worked in the Clinton administration.

Among the several first-time candidates are Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr, a Republican, and human rights attorney Barbara Mulvaney, a Democrat who helped prosecute genocide in Rwanda.

The largely coastal 33rd Congressional District stretches from the Westside and Malibu through the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 44 percent to 27 percent, with 18 percent of voters unaffiliated with any party.

Under the state’s open primary system, only the top two finishers in June, regardless of any party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.

Photo: Charlie Kaijo via Flickr