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California Gold Rush: The Race for the Hottest Job in Congress

Posted on May 26, 2014

By Bill Boyarsky

(Page 3)

LehaKoK /

In the spectrum of Democratic politics, the Center for American Progress is somewhere in the middle, part of the cautious Washington establishment. Ken Silverstein wrote in The Nation this month, “CAP is ... among the most secretive of all think tanks concerning its donors.” Silverstein portrayed CAP as being under the thumb of corporate donors, including Goldman Sachs, and implied a CAP publication about the banking firm was subject to vetting by the organization’s bosses and fundraisers. The center replied the piece was not changed and was one of more than two dozen CAP reports critical of Goldman Sachs.

Miller’s extensive writings reflect the center’s middle-of-the-road view. For example, he worries about Social Security cost of living increases. “In an era when health care and pensions for seniors are poised to crowd out cash for every other public priority, or else require tax increases beyond what even liberals think would be good for the economy, this shouldn’t be the left’s only objective,” he wrote. He favored the Iraq invasion although several years later, he wrote, “Since it’s a moment for taking stock of America’s role in Iraq, I want to remind you that I blew it.” He wrote a nine-page policy paper on Israel. “The United States must redouble its commitment to Israel to assure its safety and flourishing,” he said.

Miller was sufficiently impressive to the Los Angeles Times editorial board to win its endorsement, although it said he “wasn’t the only candidate who intrigued us.”

Another interesting candidate is David Kanuth, a deputy public defender who was a tech entrepreneur before going to law school. Unknown, he was able to raise more than $800,000 and win the endorsement of a few sports celebrities, most notably University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and former Los Angeles Dodger and New York Mets star Mike Piazza.

With so many Democratic candidates, Republican Carr, a deputy district attorney and tough-on-crime advocate, stands a good chance of making it into the runoff even though Republicans make up just 28 percent of the electorate in the strongly Democratic district. If Carr, a moderate on issues such as Obamacare, holds the Republicans together and the Democratic candidates split the vote, he might even make it to first place, although he would find it difficult to beat a Democrat in the fall. His strong Likud-like stand on Israel will help with the more hawkish of the district’s substantial Jewish population, which is predominantly Democratic.

If that happens, and if Williamson is able to translate her charisma into votes, the November runoff will be an expensive show for the nation’s amusement, featuring a crime-fighting Likudnik versus a populist lefty with a powerful speaking style.

But when the curtain drops, the discontented will still be yearning for another Henry Waxman.


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