Thursday, January 30, 2014

CA-33: Henry Waxman Retiring

Is it a surprise when a 74 year old congressman announces his retirement? It really shouldn't, although few were expecting Henry Waxman (D, CA-33) to announce his retirement today. He did give Politico, the Washington Post and the New York Times enough of a heads up that they'd have glowingly long portraits ready to run. They all came out at the same time this morning. Waxman is the epitome of the Westside progressive and was very popular with Democrats and incredibly unpopular with Republicans.

Waxman was drawn into an unusual district in 2011, with very liberal areas of the Westside like Santa Monica and Venice along with Republican leaning areas south of the airport. As a result of mixing these two disparate voting blocks, it was a district that Steve Cooley won in the Attorney General race in 2010, but Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown won by enough to discourage any Republican. Bill Bloomfield, a Republican turned NPP, spent heavily in the district and over performed what a Republican should get and lost 54%-46%. Bloomfield blew Waxman out in the South Bay based AD-66, 58.2%-41.8%, but lost the rest of the district 61.5%-38.%.

Some Democrats have already ruled out running.

None of these are surprising. Shriver and Kuehl are the two Democrats with a chance to succeed Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. They aren't going to abandon an election where they have a good shot for a clown car primary. While it might be tough for those outside of Los Angeles to understand, going from LA County Supervisor to the back bench of congress is a big demotion. Brownley likely got the John Garamendi treatment. There's no way Democrats would let their incumbent in a swing seat run in a safe Democrat district.

The list of possible Democratic candidates here is a long one. They include Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who finished 3rd in a congressional election in 2011, State Senator Fran Pavley, former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, City Attorney Mike Feuer,and LA City Councilmen Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz are all possibilities, although both of them live outside the district. State Sen. Ted Lieu and Assemblyman Richard Bloom should also be mentioned, although doing so would mean giving up their current seats. If they want to be in congress, it might be worth it. And those are just the elected officials. This is a district with a lot of wealthy liberals, including many actors who might think they want to be in congress.

Because it contains some heavily Republican areas, the district has a Republican bench. While there hasn't been much enthusiasm among Republicans up until now, Waxman's retirement is sure to bring a lot of interest. It could be a great opportunity for the GOP to finish 1-2 in a primary. The primary will likely be 42-46% Republican. If you have two Republicans and a lot of strong Democrats it wouldn't be hard to see the Republicans finish in the low 20's and no Democrat get more than 17%.

Edit: This morning I was certain former City Controller Wendy Greuel would run, but I didn't include her because someone convinced me that she lived in the Valley and that's where her support was. I shouldn't question myself. Greuel is in.

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