By Alene Tchekmedyian
Independent candidate Bill Bloomfield beat out a slate of seven candidates in Tuesday’s open primary, earning the chance to challenge Democrat Henry Waxman, a 37-year veteran in Congress, to represent the newly drawn 33rd Congressional District.
The new district stretches from Malibu down the coast through the South Bay and to the Peninsula, including such far flung communities as Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills.
Waxman received 45.5 percent of the votes, totaling to 40,383 votes, while Manhattan Beach resident Bloomfield finished second with 24.6 percent, or 21,831 votes.
Waxman anticipates a larger voter turnout in November’s general election. “There was a very low turnout of votes,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday, adding that he expects to get the votes received by the Green Party and other democratic candidates.
Bloomfield was pleased with the results. “It was very easy for voters to connect the dots and [see] that I’m someone that can go back there and make a difference,” Bloomfield said. “I look forward to the next five months bringing this message to everyone in the district.”
Leading up to the November election, Waxman said he’d be spending much more time in the South Bay. He’s meeting with aerospace industry leaders next week, he said. “This is a new area for me,” Waxman continued. “I’m looking forward to meeting voters who probably have very little knowledge of what I’ve been doing.”
Businessman and largely self-funded candidate Bloomfield, who reregistered more than a year ago as an Independent from the Republican Party, helped co-found No Labels, a bipartisan organization with a platform to fix Congress.
“He has support from the Republican Party, he’s been a lifelong Republican as far as I can tell,” Waxman said.
Bloomfield has been endorsed by Republicans Sen. John McCain and former mayor Richard Riordan.
“He may try to run away from his party, but they’re the ones in charge here, they’re the ones I think are to blame for the partisan deadlock we’ve seen in Washington because they’ve been unwilling to compromise,” Waxman said.
Bloomfield said he hopes to move beyond partisan politics. “Prior to open primaries if you wanted to be involved in government and change, and improving things, you needed to be either a Republican or a Democrat to have an effective voice,” Bloomfield said on Wednesday, adding that he was involved in efforts to create an open primary and non-partisan redistricting reform. “That passed, so now I’m a non-partisan. I would welcome [Waxman] to do a similar move that I did. Put the country ahead of partisan politics.”
At the center of Bloomfield’s platform are plans to revive the economy and control the budget deficit. “We need to look at regulations that are slowing the economy down, we need to look at tax reform, we need to focus on energy reform,” Bloomfield said. “The fact that we continue to import 8.5 million barrels a day of foreign oil is a tremendous drag on the economy and a threat to our security.”
Waxman is also focused on reducing the budget deficit.
“It’s clear we cannot reduce the deficit on cuts alone,” Waxman said. “We also have to raise revenues to achieve the balance for a deficit reduction and a stronger economy for the future.”
Bloomfield has personally contributed $1.1 million to his campaign, according to federal campaign finance records.
Waxman said he doesn’t think a heavy wallet is enough for Bloomfield to win. “I respect the fact that he has a lot of money that he’s able to put into the campaign himself which is a real advantage,” Waxman said. “I don’t think it’s enough to convince people that he’s not a real Republican running in a Democratic district.”
At the end of the last reporting period on May 16, Waxman had about $895,000 in his campaign coffers, records show.
Forty-four percent of the new 33rd District’s 434,903 registered voters are registered Democrats, while 28 percent are registered Republicans, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.