Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced that he wasn't going to run for a 21st term in the House of Representatives four days ago. Only days later, it seemed that nearly every person with political ambitions in his Los Angeles district has said they are thinking about running for the seat, which hasn't been in contention for decades.
Here's a list of the top people who have either already started a campaign for the seat or have at least failed at Shermanesque equivocation. (unlike "Sweatin' to the Oldies" star and former huckster of Bluth wares Richard Simmons, who has made it perfectly clear that he won't be running. Let the battle for his endorsement begin.)
Wendy Greuel, former Los Angeles Controller: Greuel was the first person to declare her candidacy after yesterday's announcement, telling the L.A. Times, “When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that someone as powerful as Henry Waxman would be retiring. I knew instantly in my gut that this district, the 33rd district, and his position was something I knew I could make a difference in. He’s a fighter and that’s who I’ve been and I want to do that in Congress.”
Greuel, a longtime Democratic politician in California, lost to Eric Garcetti in last year's Los Angeles mayoral race, and previously worked for Bill Clinton and in Hollywood. Big Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg used to be her boss. She also can count many labor unions among her supporters.
Sandra Fluke, women's rights activist: Fluke, a Democratic activist who became the face of the fight over contraception after being denied the opportunity to testify about Obamacare's birth-control policies in front on Congress in 2012, has said she's "strongly considering" a run for the open 33rd District seat. Since Fluke's the face the national media knows best, expect her to get a lot of coverage if she makes her campaign official.
Ted Lieu, California state senator: Lieu (D-Torrance) announced his candidacy today, saying “I am running because I love America. But our nation can do better. I have made the hard choices that helped turn California’s budget deficit into a budget surplus, fought to protect our environment, co-authored legislation to divest California’s pension funds from Iran’s energy and nuclear industries and authored landmark civil rights legislation.” His statement included a list of early endorsements, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) -- who endorsed Greuel in last year's mayoral race.
Marianne Williamson, writer of self-help books: Williamson announced that she was running against Waxman as an independent near the end of last year, and most people laughed at the thought of someone trying to beat Waxman from the left. Her press person called her an "author, lecturer, thought leader" in a recent interview with L.A. Weekly.
She tried to help Dennis Kucinich start the Department of Peace in 2005. She quickly released her own announcement following Waxman's: "What I spoke of two weeks before his announcement, and what I will speak of two weeks after it, will be the same. I wasn’t running against Henry Waxman, any more than I’m running against any of the specific candidates who will be joining the race now. I’m running against the system that produced them." She does have roughly 205,000 more Twitter followers than Waxman, but then again Justin Bieber's not about to win any elections soon. She's going to be quite a longshot.
Fran Pavley, California state senator: Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) is a state senator who lives in the 33rd district and is considering a run -- but is also unsure if she wants to give up her place in a legislative chamber where Democrats are in the supermajority. She told the Sacramento Bee last week, "I'll think about it, but my expertise is in state issues," Pavley said. "It's a wonderful district to represent. I know the people and the issues very well. But it's difficult times in Congress right now."
Brent Roske, television producer: Roske had already announced his candidacy as an independent before Waxman revealed this was his last term. Initially, he proposed sharing power with Waxman in office, via a "2 for 1" plan. “Every single person I’ve talked to in the entertainment industry thinks it’s a brilliant idea,” he told Roll Call in July.
He has the benefit of being in the entertainment industry while running in Los Angeles. He also knows how to woo the home team. When he debuted his campaign in August, he said, "I've worked in the entertainment industry for 15 years and in that time have seen first hand the damaging dropoff in filming right here in LA. Los Angeles is still called the entertainment capitol of the world, but in order to keep that title we're going to have to fight for it."
"What's needed," he insists, "is putting the pressure on and getting creative with local and state legislators to find ways to incentivize producers into shooting here. The first step is to match and even beat what states like New York or Louisiana are doing. My next step would be to facilitate the tools needed to tilt the decision so producers have a financial leg to stand on when meeting with their financiers."
He will also have no problem getting celebrity endorsements. His campaign Web site features praise from David Hasselhoff and Richard Schiff -- better known as Toby on "West Wing."
However, he also has no political experience. That will likely be a big barrier to him winning, especially in such a crowded field. Not to mention that running as an independent may not be the wisest move in a district where Democrats have a notable advantage.
Bill Bloomfield, unsuccessful Waxman usurper: In 2012, Waxman faced his first stiff electoral competition for a long, long while, from Bill Bloomfield, an independent candidate who benefited from California's new open primary system. Waxman got 54 percent, to Bloomfield's 46 percent -- a narrow margin considering that Waxman had never before had earned less than 61 percent of the vote. His campaign was self-funded -- Bloomfield is a businessman who started his career dabbling in Internet companies until transitioning more into real estate. Bloomfield hasn't announced whether he will take another run at the seat. If he does enter, expect this race to be especially expensive as well as crowded.
Richard Bloom, California assembly member: The former mayor of Santa Monica was elected to his first term in the California State Assembly in 2012, and his 2014 campaign Web site is already live. He is considering running for Waxman's seat. "Seriously considering."
Debra Bowen, California secretary of state: Bowen was elected to be California's Secretary of State in 2006 -- making her the sixth woman to win statewide office in California --and she won a second term in 2010. She has said she is still thinking about whether to run. Because of term limits, she won't be able to run again this year for secretary of state, leaving her wide open for a potential congressional bid. She lost a special election race in 2011 for a vacant congressional seat. Her office has one-and-a-half stars on Yelp.
Matt Miller, radio host: Miller -- who hosts Left, Right, and Center on KCRW, writes a weekly column at the Washington Post, and is a fellow at the Center for American Progress -- is also being floated as a possible candidate in this overflowing race. He worked at the White House as an OMB senior advisor during the Clinton administration after serving as a fellow from 1991-2. Before that, he worked at McKinsey. He also made a cameo appearance in the Denzel Washington movie "The Siege" as a D.C. pundit. It's not clear what party Miller would run under, but he argues as the "center" on his radio show and has previously written about "why we need a third party."
Zev Yaroslavsky, retiring member of the L.A. County board of supervisors: Yaroslavsky is on the L.A. Board of Supervisors and is planning to retire this year, partly due to the term limits of his position. L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez seems to think Yaroslavsky is likely to enter the race. Yaroslavsky seems a bit more conflicted. “My first reaction is to be a freshman at the age of 65 is not something I’ve longed to do all my life." In 1994, the L.A. Times referenced the Democratic official's "political artistry--one part media mastery, one part fund-raising prowess, one part instinct for shifting realities."