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Who’ll succeed Henry Waxman?

by Jonah Lowenfeld

February 5, 2014 | 10:24 am

Henry Waxman in 2012 at a press conference calling for no reduction in Medicare and Medicaid budgets. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts/Files

Henry Waxman in 2012 at a press conference calling for no reduction in Medicare and Medicaid budgets. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts/Files

Former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel was the first to announce her bid to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman, throwing her hat into the ring on Jan. 30, the day the 20-term Congressman announced he will not seek re-election. California State Sen. Ted Lieu joined the fray the following day, followed by a third Democratic candidate, attorney Barbara Mulvaney, who announced her intention to run for Congress in the newly open 33rd district on Feb 3. 

Two independent candidates — new-age author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and Web producer Brent Roske — had already begun running before Waxman’s announcement, and now that Waxman is out of the race, many others are weighing their options, including Bill Bloomfield, the Republican-turned-independent millionaire who spent $7.5 million of his own money in a loss to Waxman two years ago. 

A spokesman for Zev Yaroslavsky said he is seriously considering running; among the other possible candidates are Democratic activist Sandra Fluke, who filed papers to enter the now crowded race this week, and California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom. 

“I’m still considering it,” Bloom told the Journal on Feb. 3.

Bloom — the former mayor of Santa Monica who won his assembly seat in 2012 in a race that was similarly crowded with Democrats — said he has gotten a few calls from supporters encouraging him to run, but as someone who has spent just one of a possible 12 years in the assembly, the stakes are high: To run for Congress, he’d have to forgo the chance to run for re-election, since an individual can’t be up for election to two positions on the same ballot. 

“The only bad decision I could make would be to run for Congress if I don’t have sufficient support,” Bloom said. “I’m really being cautious about the decision-making process and making sure that all the stars are aligned.”

With the California Democratic Party convention set for March and the first round of voting scheduled for June 3, Bloom expects to make his decision very soon, probably within a week or 10 days, he said. 

Other candidates in the race come with strengths and weaknesses: Greuel is still saddled with as much as $650,000 debt from her unsuccessful run for mayor of Los Angeles last year; Lieu, meanwhile, represents a district that includes more than 80 percent of Waxman’s, and has already secured a handful of top-flight endorsements, including one from former Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

That could serve Lieu well. When Rep. Jane Harman stepped down in 2011, Janice Hahn, then a Los Angeles City Councilwoman, edged out a number of Democratic candidates in a special election to fill the seat. According to Dave Jacobson of Shallman Communications, which managed Hahn’s campaign, she won because she got an early start. 

“She hit the ground running on day one,” Jacobson said. “She burned the phone lines and sucked a lot of the air out of the race by getting a lot of endorsements every single day.”

With the departures of Harman, Berman and now Waxman, there could be three fewer Southern California Jewish representatives in the halls of Congress. But Bloom said he’s acutely aware that, even if he runs for and wins Waxman’s seat, he’d be further thinning out the number of Jewish elected officials in Sacramento. 

“I think the Jewish community is not really thinking too much about these changes, and they need to be,” Bloom said. “It’s important for the community to have representation at all levels of government.”

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