LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The seventeen candidates in the race to succeed Henry Waxman in the House of Representatives are making their final cases to voters in the countdown to next week's California primary.
The 33rd congressional district, represented by Waxman for 40 years, stretches from the west San Fernando Valley into Beverly Hills and down through coastal communities from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes.
CBS2's Dave Bryan spoke with some of the leading candidates vying for the seat, including former City Controller Wendy Greuel, who says she's ready to take on the role after last year's disastrous race for mayor.
"This is an important seat to really take on some of those critical issues facing this country," Greuel said.
Bryan reports State Senator Ted Lieu, from Torrance, may have the strategic advantage, already representing much of the 33rd district in Sacramento. He says worked on many of the same issues he would tackle in congress, including transportation, education and climate change.
Then perhaps warming up for a run-off, he took a thinly veiled shot at Greuel, who moved into the district after announcing her intentions to run.
"I do live in the district. And not all candidates live in the district. Some have had to move here. And I think voters do like to have people represent them who actually know something about the district," Lieu said.
Marianne Williamson, a spiritual adviser to millions of Americans who have bought her books and listened to her talks, has raised more than $1 million for her campaign and has a small army of dedicated supporters. She says disparity of wealth and the corrupting influence of big money in Congress will be among her top issues.
"It should be the people's House, but the average citizen is locked out. If you don't have either wealth or access to wealth don't even think about it," she said.
Williamson has support from the entertainment world as well. Alanis Morissette performed at a recent pre-election campaign rally for her in Beverly Hills, and Eva Longoria has also given her a video endorsement.
Another candidate, David Kanuth, has a video endorsement from LL Cool J.
Kanuth made his fortune in the online content world, and then became a public defender. Bryan caught up with him in at the Pacific Palisades farmers market.
"I have a pretty unique background," he said. "Five years growing small businesses and then those seven years in the Public Defender's office doing something that's not always the most popular job on the planet."
Matt Miller was the host of Left, Right & Center - a popular political talk show on NPR. He won the endorsement of the L.A. Times and says his goal is to develop a reputation similar to Waxman in Congress.
"I aspire to play that kind of leadership role and to bring an independent approach to really tackle the biggest problems we face, and if that can put me in the mold of a Henry Waxman, then I would be honored to be seen that way," Miller said.
Former criminal gang prosecutor Elan Carr is the only republican in the race who has raised enough money to be included among the leading candidates. But in a race with 10 democrats and two independents, that could be a big advantage for Carr.
"Of all the candidates in this race, the one most likely to make a difference is I, who would be in the majority if I am elected... And that means I'll be able to have more of an impact than a congressperson in the minority who's complaining they don't get listened to," Carr said.
With 17 candidates on the ballot, it may be a difficult choice for voters on June 3. Only the top two finishers in next week's race will survive to make the November run-off.
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