LA News Group Editorial Board - April 25, 2014

Ted Lieu, Wendy Greuel best of strong field in 33rd Congressional District: Endorsement

April 25, 2014

By the Los Angeles News Group Editorial Board

It won’t be easy to replace Rep. Henry Waxman — a liberal lion of the House who for four decades was the nationally prominent and strikingly productive representative of what is today the 33rd Congressional District. It may be impossible to carve out such a career in today’s political environment.

Yet, as many as 21 candidates have put themselves on the line to try to fill his shoes. Of those, we consider six to have the resume, intellectual heft and campaign resources to have a shot at following Waxman in office, if not to fully replace him: Elon Carr, Wendy Greuel, David Kanuth, Ted Lieu, Matt Miller and Marianne Williamson.

Two candidates will make it through the June 3 primary to the November general election. Our endorsements in the primary go to Lieu and Greuel.

Lieu is our top pick. He is an accomplished legislator who has served for nine years in the state Assembly and Senate. He is a progressive Democrat of the kind that can represent the voters of this progressive district, but independent enough to have been one of two Democrats in the Senate to join Republicans in voting to suspend two Democratic colleagues with ethical problems. He’s also a rare Democrat to have authored and passed legislation labeled a “job creator bill” by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Lieu served four years in the U.S. Air Force and is a lieutenant colonel in the reserves, which would give him credibility on national security issues with Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress.

Our second choice is Greuel, a former Los Angeles controller and City Council member who lost her 2013 bid for mayor to Eric Garcetti. She too has been effective in her political career, which included working in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, and worked as a DreamWorks executive for five years.

Some voters may hold it against Greuel that she lived just outside the 33rd District and then leased a house within the district after Waxman announced his retirement. But it’s not a legal or ethical issue — unlike the state Legislature, Congress does not require its members to live in the districts they represent. Her views are largely aligned with the people she would represent in the 33rd, and she would be an effective representative for them.

We’re going with the two candidates who have carved out political careers for themselves. But those voters who are turned off by established politicians and looking for fresh faces have an impressive quartet to choose from.

 Matt Miller is a radio host, columnist and author of “The Two Percent Solution.” He is a Democrat with a centrist bent in some areas, a policy wonk who looks for real solutions to big problems. Elevating the teaching profession is one of Miller’s priorities. He worked in the Clinton administration but is new to seeking office.

Williamson, a spiritual lecturer and bestselling author, is the candidate for those who are utterly turned off by the influence of money in politics. That includes all of us to some degree; for her it’s the top issue not just in this race, but for our nation’s future. Working toward a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and maintaining civil liberties are her top priorities.

The next two candidates were unknowns when this race began.

Carr stands out in this crowd because he’s the only Republican. A deputy district attorney with a military background, he is conservative but with some moderated views befitting a Republican trying to win in a district with such a huge Democratic advantage.

Kanuth, a former deputy public defender with his own criminal defense law practice, caught attention by raising an amazing amount of cash for an unknown. His passion for this race comes from sitting beside defendants who so obviously have been failed by our educational system. He touts his skill for persuasion that allows him to win over judges and juries, but was unable to persuade this board that he would be a better choice than Miller for those seeking a first-time candidate.

Voters in the 33rd Congressional District have an impressive field to choose from. If you can’t find someone to get behind in this group, you’re not trying.

Ted Lieu and Wendy Greuel are the choices of the Los Angeles News Group editorial board.


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