The political landscape of Southern California is recovering from an announcement that has the impact of an earthquake: a sitting Congressman announced his retirement. 20-term incumbent Henry Waxman announced on Thursday that after spending 40 years in Congress he wants to do something else with his life. Waxman represents California's 33rd district which includes the "West Side" of Los Angeles, and is one of the wealthiest Congressional districts in California (and thus the nation).
The sudden appearance of an open seat to a high-profile position of Congressperson without the possibility of term limits will surely be attractive to many local politicians. The Los Angeles Times runs down the list of people expected to run for this heavily Democratic seat:
Potential contestants include state Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance and Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills; Assemblyman Richard Bloom of Santa Monica; Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a former South Bay lawmaker; local radio host Matt Miller; women's rights activist Sandra Fluke — all Democrats — and Manhattan Beach businessman Bill Bloomfield, an independent and former Republican who spent $7 million of his own money in an unsuccessful 2012 race against Waxman.
Even before the congressman announced his 20th term would be his last, two other political independents had stated their plans to run: Brent Roske, a television producer and director, and Marianne Williamson, the author of several self-help books.
Amid Thursday's swirl of rumors and speculation, with fresh names surfacing almost hourly, a few possible contenders took themselves out of the race.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he would not run. Sheila Kuehl, a former state senator and assemblywoman who represented the Westside and the Valley, and Bobby Shriver, a former mayor of Santa Monica and nephew of President Kennedy, both said they would continue their campaigns for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The retiring supervisor they aim to replace, Zev Yaroslavsky, did not explicitly rule out a try for Waxman's seat but made it seem highly unlikely. "My first reaction is [that] to be a [congressional] freshman at the age of 65 is not something I've longed to do all my life," Yaroslavsky said.Open Congressional seats are very rare indeed and this should be a fascinating race. Wendy Greuel, who lost the 2013 Los Angeles Mayor's race to Eric Garcetti last May announced her intention to run almost immediately, while State Senator Ted Lieu waited until Friday to do so, and included several high-profile endorsements of politicians who represent pieces of the 33rd District.