Perhaps the most dynamic part of the race for an entertainment-heavy California congressional district is the cast of competitors: They include a spiritual teacher and author, a radio talk host, an Iraqi war veteran and criminal gang prosecutor, a public defender, a former DreamWorks executive and city controller, and a sitting state senator.
There's good reason that the field is so full in the 33rd District. It's a rare opening in the coastal district with the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) after 40 years in the seat. The district, which stretches along the coast and includes Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and Beverly Hills, is among the highest profile regions of the country, particularly for Democrats, and it is the locale of much of the political activism that goes on in showbiz, whether through visible causes or through fundraising.
The flight of movies and TV shows from L.A. has forced creative types to trek elsewhere for work, leaving their families for months at a time. The question is whether, at this point, much can be done at the federal level to boost California in the competition to offer the best state tax credits to producers.
While talk of such problems may be a motivating factor for Hollywood donors, "I haven't see much difference and a lot of daylight on the issues," says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, professor at USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy.
So another factor in the race is who can go to Washington, as a freshman, and have a chance at establishing the sort of national stature that was enjoyed by Waxman for so long.
"This is one of the greatest Democratic districts in the United States, where voters are concerned not only with picking someone who can take care of the district but with a leader who gains national stature," says political consultant Donna Bojarsky.
A dearth of polling and expected low turnout are variables in the race, but based on campaign finance reports, six candidates, including four Democrats, one independent and one Republican, are the most viable. They will compete in Tuesday's open primary for two slots to move on to the general election.
Here are the candidates who have garnered the lion's share of attention in the race:
Supporters include: Eric Cantor, Steve Cooley, Sheldon Adelson
Don't discount the idea that with so many Democrats vying for the seat, a Republican could end up as one of the two top vote-getters. Carr, a prosecutor and Iraqi war veteran, cites the experience of Bill Bloomfield in the 2012 race, when he garnered 46% of the vote against Waxman. Bloomfield had the benefit of deep pockets and switched from Republican to decline to state before the election, but Carr says that it showed the possibility of an upset.
Redistricting has made the seat slightly less blue, although Democrats will have a 44%-28% registration advantage of Republicans.
"It is a lot less lopsided than it used to be," Carr says.
He has raised $389,466, including $30,000 in personal loans, and says that for campaign, "the real bottom line is that people are incredibly frustrated and incredibly worried. The worry is bipartisan and palpable, and I feel it."
He puts runaway production in the context of businesses overall fleeing the state and the U.S. "Part of it is making federal tax and regulatory policy friendly to business," he says.
When it comes to tax incentives, he says that "you don't have to have a race to the bottom, but you have to be sensible. There is a difference between a race to the bottom and being punitive. California is being punitive at this point."
He says that he would use the power of the California congressional delegation to say, 'We need to focus together on this problem.'"
He also says that, when it comes to mega-mergers, the government should use its antitrust authority sparingly, but says there is need to stop monopolistic combinations. He also says that as the FCC looks to create rules of the road for the Internet, otherwise known as net neutrality, regulations "have to be very, very limited and very clear."
Hollywood Exerts Heavy Influence in Race to Succeed Henry Waxman
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