Rep. Henry Waxman's sudden announcement Thursday that he would retire after 20 terms set off wild guesswork among political power brokers in California about who would run to replace him.
“Waxmania!” declared Democratic consultant Sean Clegg. “This is going to be a jail-break field. This is going to be a rumble on the Westside.”
Among the names being bandied about are state legislators Fran Pavley, Richard Bloom and Ted Lieu, who said he was seriously considering a race and would make a formal statement Friday about his intentions; former state lawmaker Betsy Butler; Secretary of State Debra Bowen; county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, former City Controller Wendy Greuel and KCRW host Matt Miller.
“I’m hearing everyone’s name in the universe. People love to speculate,” said former state legislator Sheila Kuehl, who put to rest rumors that she was considering dropping her county Board of Supervisors’ bid to run for Congress.
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“I have always preferred to be in a public service position where I could actually accomplish serious programmatic goals, and I think that at the moment, that is possible on the Board of Supervisors, not so possible in Congress,” Kuehl said.
A consultant for former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver, Kuehl’s rival in the county race, said he too would continue his bid to replace termed-out Supervisor Yaroslavsky.
Yaroslavsky did not completely rule out a run for Democrat Waxman’s seat, but made it sound unlikely.
“My first reaction is to be a freshman at the age of 65 is not something I’ve longed to do all my life,” he said.
Like many, Yaroslavsky said he was shocked when he learned of Waxman’s plans. He learned of the news Wednesday night and likened it to a death in the family.
“Frankly I did not have a great night’s sleep. This is an incredibly sad day for America and for Congress and for the community he represented," Yaroslavsky said. "Henry Waxman has his fingerprints on more legislation that has impacted the lives and the quality of life of Americans than practically any other congressmen in the history of the country, from healthcare to the environment to clean air.
"This is a man who sometimes single-handedly, even when he was in the minority, was able to advance the cause of public health and the public interest.”
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