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Ear to the Ground

Your Complete Guide to California’s Most Important Congressional Race

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Posted on Jun 2, 2014

Original image by Shutterstock

If you’re voting in Tuesday’s primary, or you want to know more about the significance of one of the most important contests this term, than this is the post for you.

California’s 33rd Congressional District is currently represented by Henry Waxman, a progressive Democrat who has been in the House since 1975. The district is made up of some of Los Angeles’ wealthiest neighborhoods, including Bel Air and Beverly Hills. It stretches from Palos Verdes in the south to Malibu in the north, and it votes reliably for Democratic candidates.

In terms of national significance, the 33rd is home to many Democratic Party political donors—the ones who tend to max out their contributions—and as such is a frequent stop for anyone running for office. Whoever holds the district is likely to have extra influence with those donors and, consequently, in national politics.

There are 19 candidates running to replace Waxman, who is retiring. They are Republicans Elan Carr, Lily Gilani and Kevin Mottus; Democrats Vince Flaherty, James Graf, Wendy Greuel, Kristie Holmes, David Kanuth, Ted Lieu, Matt Miller, Barbara L. Mulvaney, Zein E. Obagi Jr., and Michael Shapiro; independents Tom Fox, Theo Milonopoulos (write-in), Brent C. Roske and Marianne Williamson; Green Party candidate Michael Ian Sachs; and Libertarian Mark Matthew Herd.

We’ve interviewed two of the candidates, independent Marianne Williamson and Democrat Ted Lieu on air. Williamson, best known as a spiritual adviser, is running an insurgent, Occupy-style campaign. Lieu is a state senator who has been endorsed by the California Democratic Party to take the seat. We also spoke to Truthdig political columnist Bill Boyarsky, who has been covering the race for us. All three interviews are below, along with links to Bill’s last two columns on the district.

Columns by Bill Boyarsky:

California Gold Rush: The Race for the Hottest Job in Congress
California’s 33rd Congressional istrict is home to some of the Democrats’ wealthiest donors and one of the party’s most progressive leaders. No fewer than 17 candidates are running to pick up the keys to the treasure chest, but is any a worthy heir?

Spying a Difference Among Democrats in ‘Silicon Beach’ Congressional Race
To evaluate contenders for Rep. Henry Waxman’s seat, I looked at an issue that is central to American life today: domestic spying by the federal government.

You can also read the L.A. Times endorsement here. The Times endorsed Matt Miller, who may be known to Truthdig readers as the center on “Left, Right & Center,” the radio show that features Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer as the left.

Here’s how the LA Weekly summarizes the race:

Carr, an appealing Republican Iraq War veteran and deputy L.A. County district attorney, may nab one of the top two spots because the three well-known Democrats are splitting the Dems - and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson could attract some of the beach crowd.

Former Clinton aide Matt Miller threw out a lot of new ideas and won some of the debates that nobody watched. If Miller had more money he’d present a threat both to Ted Lieu, a respected legislator burdened with being a Sacramento pol during an ugly period, and to Wendy Greuel, still coming back from her mayoral thumping by Eric Garcetti.

We’ll give the last word to Dorothy Reik of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, who wrote us to talk about Ted Lieu’s legislative accomplishments, including a bill to regulate subprime mortgages that got him kicked off the Assembly banking committee.

Following that there was legislation outlawing gay conversion therapy, now being copied in eight states; his bill to put a resolution on overturning Citizens United on the ballot; his bill to forbid California’s cooperation with the NSA; his co-authoring of SB32, and his bill outlawing the hideous practice of hunting bears with dogs which won him the hard-to-get endorsement of the Humane Society. No legislator has a higher rating on the environment than Ted who says his reason for running is to work on climate change which he calls the “transformational” issue of our time. His constituents love him because he is progressive AND effective but he, like Henry Waxman, does not go around tweeting, facebooking and e-mailing everything he is doing. He won the California Democratic Party endorsement at the local endorsement caucus - a very rare occurrence - with over 70% of the delegates voting for him. PDAmerica as well as Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains have endorsed him as have most of the Democratic clubs in his new district. Bill Rosendahl, upon hearing the news of Waxman’s retirement, immediately called Ted Lieu and asked him to run. We are the people who research the candidates, attend their forums, meet with them and ask the hard questions. We also phone bank, precinct walk, stuff envelopes and do the hard work of helping run campaigns - all for no pay. We work to be sure the best candidate wins. We are more than just a bunch of dilettantes with some money.  We are dedicated activists fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party and we need someone with experience to lead the charge. This is not an entry level position.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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