State Senator Ted Lieu Wants to Represent Santa Monica, South Bay in Congress
By Jason Islas
State Senator Ted Lieu knew he wouldn’t have much time to make a decision.
On Thursday, Congressman Henry Waxman, whose district includes Santa Monica and the South Bay, made the surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection after 40 years in office.
Less than 24 hours later, Lieu announced that he would enter the race to replace the veteran lawmaker.
“It was a very difficult decision made quickly,” Lieu told The Lookout Sunday. “Congressman Waxman is a remarkable leader and a giant, not just in California but in America.”
But Lieu, who was elected to the State Senate in 2010 after five years in the State Assembly, believes he is the right person to take over as representative of California’s 33rd Congressional District.
News of Waxman’s retirement spurred a flurry of speculation about who would succeed him. While commentators bandied about a dozen names, five people have officially entered the race ahead of the June 3 primary election.
Running against Lieu is former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, who lost her bid for mayor last year, Marianne Williamson, an author and new-age guru, Brent Roske, a television producer and Barbara Mulvaney, an attorney.
When he announced his bid Friday, Lieu also had a list of more than two dozen endorsements that included City Councilmembers from his district, members of the El Segundo School Board, fellow State legislators and Congressmembers Alan Lowenthal and Maxine Waters.
Lieu, a Democrat, is proud of his record on the environment, his former military service and his ability to work across the aisle.
“I have always believed that climate change is the greatest single threat facing not only California but the nation,” said Lieu.
He pointed to Senate Bill 1066, which he authored. The Bill “awarded over $3 million in climate change adaptation grants,” he said.
Lieu is well-liked among activists who would like to see Santa Monica Airport closed. The State Senator has worked closely with organizations like Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) to mitigate air and noise pollution at the local airport. On Monday, CRAAP endorsed Lieu for Waxman’s seat.
During his tenure in office, he has supported the growth of Los Angeles County’s public transportation system, expanded protections for victims of domestic abuse and pushed through a bill banning therapy for minors aimed at changing their sexual orientation.
An immigrant from Taiwan, Lieu said that he supports comprehensive immigration reform and he has supported President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
While Lieu’s record championing liberal causes will certainly play well in the solidly Democratic city of Santa Monica, home to 60,000 registered voters, Congressional District 33 includes the more political diverse South Bay cities, like Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes.
That doesn’t worry Lieu, who said he came up in the State Assembly at a time California was facing political gridlock and a looming $40 billion deficit.
“I worked across the aisle” to help solve those problems, he said. “We had to make some very difficult cuts.”
And, he said there are some issues that transcend party politics.
“I would join with conservatives and liberals in support of Israel's security,” he said.
But overall, he said he would continue Waxman’s work as a stalwart Democrat.
“I cannot compare myself to Congressmember Waxman,” Lieu said. “He is a living legend.”
But, Lieu said he would bring to the table his own unique perspective as a veteran and a lawmaker who has “gone through a deep fiscal crisis” and overcome political gridlock in his own legislature.