BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — California's 33rd congressional district is one of the wealthiest in the country.
And this year, it's home to one of the most hotly contested congressional races in America - the race to succeed Henry Waxman in the House of Representatives.
Waxman represented the sprawling district that stretches from the west San Fernando Valley into Beverly Hills and down through coastal communities from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes for several decades.
And KCAL9's Dave Bryan reports a big crowd turned out for a star-studded campaign event in Beverly Hills Monday night.
The pre-election rally featured singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, who dedicated her new song to the campaign of Marianne Williamson, a spiritual adviser to millions of Americans who bought her books and listened to her talks.
"For the last thirty years, I've been up close and personal with people whose lives were in crisis. And I feel I understand something. Not only from living my own life, but also from being so up close with others moving through crisis about what it takes to transform crisis into opportunity," Williamson said.
Williamson is hardly alone in the race. With 17 candidates still running to win the seat currently occupied by 40-year veteran Waxman, the race for Congress in one of America's richest districts is looking more like the Kentucky Derby. Fifteen of the 17 have not served in elective office, from former prosecutor Elan Carr, to NPR talk show host Matt Miller, the the ringmaster of the Left, Right & Center political show.
"It is fun as I campaign around the district that most people know my voice, my name, love Left, Right & Center and have no idea what I look like. They all know me from radio," Miller said.
The field includes only two established political figures in Southern California: former City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and state Senator Ted Lieu, from Torrance.
Bryan asked Lieu if the challenge from outsiders, some of whom have large followings from their previous endeavors, makes it more challenging for the experienced political candidates, and more confusing for the voters.
"Anybody can run, and I think this is showing what a vibrant district we have that so many people are running, and I think that's a good thing. But I believe the voters will want to see someone who has a track record and can deliver results, such as on job creation, making colleges more afforable, making access to healthcare more affordable," he said.
Former City Controller Wendy Greuel was attending a political event in San Pedro. She tells voters she has the advantage of having had a career outside politics before running for office and that gives her the perspective from both inside and out.
"I've also been in the private sector. I've been in the federal government and have well-rounded experience. I remind people I didn't run for office until I was over 40 years old and have a history of engaging in civic involvement issues that are important, whether it's education, such as creating L.A.'s best afterschool program, or by getting involved in issues like the environment and civil rights issues," Greuel said.
Greuel and Lieu are still favored to get into the run-off in the race.
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