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Blog: Bloomfield vs. Waxman Debate

Arthur Christopher Schaper reflects on highlights from the October 10 debate between Bill Bloomfield and Henry Waxman for the 33rd Congressional District.

From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Palos Verdes League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women sponsored a unique debate between independent candidate Bill Bloomfield, who is running his first political campaign; and long-term incumbent Henry Waxman, who is running in a new constituency outside of the well-known and established Westside base. Taking place in Hesse Park’s Community Room in Ranch Palos Verdes, the two candidates sparred over diverse issues.

Putting aside political affiliations, I walked up to the Congressman who has struck fear in the hearts of presidents, politicians and public entities. For the first time—ever—I was meeting Congressman Henry Waxman, the “Eliot Ness” of the House of Representatives in person. All broad smiles and handshakes, Waxman made the rounds. After months of following his exploits before the camera and in the press, I finally met the man. He really is quite short, with one woman telling me that she felt tall for the first time ever. Yet Mr. Waxman offered a commanding presence in that evening’s debate. Waxman assured voters that in spite of thirty-eight years in office, he was not taking any chances about  his reelection, taking Mr. Bloomfield’s candidacy seriously. While Bloomfield was speaking to a community which he has known for most of his life, Mr. Waxman introduced himself to an entirely new array of voters, nothing like his constituencies North of Dockweiler Beach.

A number of supporters, including reporters from the Beverly Hills Courier, showed up to show their support for the Manhattan Beach businessman and civic activist, an unprecedented challenger who shook off the general election jitters to indict Mr. Waxman’s partisanship and lack of oversight for the care of our Southland Veterans. From assisting non-profits to funding political candidates on both sides of the aisle, to outlining his hope to go to Washington and end the hyper-partisanship fracturing and frustrating Congress, Bloomfield fielded attacks on his record with his former party while outlining in his views, some of which favor the left, others for the right.

Two unique encounters took place in that evening’s debate. Mr. Waxman prepared a list of donors and donations which Mr. Bloomfield had supplied to Republican candidates before and after switching parties.

“Not that anything’s wrong with that,” the Congressman then jokingly quipped, channeling the off-beat humor of “Seinfeld.”

Although Waxman kept attempting to peg Mr. Bloomfield as a Republican, a strong Democratic supporter sitting next to me was impressed with Mr. Bloomfield’s commitment to environmental issues.

“He sounds more like a Democrat,” she shared with me during the debate. Afterwards, she evinced an interest in researching Bloomfield.

Mr. Waxman then reminded voters of his efforts to assist AIDS patients while promoting legislation to protect our air and our water. He also handed a letter which listed the actions that he had taken to deal with the ongoing issues at the Brentwood VA. He vocally resented the impression that he has not cared for veterans, blaming the byzantine Washington bureaucracy.

On a number of issues the two candidates agreed. Both candidates shared a commitment to protecting Israel against a nuclear Iran. Both supported reinstating Glass-Steagal, a law repealed by President Clinton, which prevented commercial banks from using deposits as provender in investment schemes. Both spoke positively about Cap and Trade (a subject which viscerally displeases this writer). Both opposed Off-Shore drilling. The two candidates shared a commitment to protect the US Air Force base in El Segundo from closure while also fostering the Aerospace industry so crucial to the South Bay economy.

The debate took an interesting turn when one question solicited the two candidates’ opinion on Prop. 30 and 38. Bloomfield admitted that he still was not sure about Prop. 30; Waxman vouched for Gov. Brown’s proposal for a sales tax hike plus income tax increases on high income earners. Both candidates rejected Prop. 38. Criticizing that initiative, Waxman faulted the drafters for crafting proposed legislation without any regard to the complex nature of law-making.

I could not resist confronting the Congressman after the debate on this matter. After briefly commending him for exposing the Bush Administration’s waste during the Iraqi War, I reminded him that he admitted in open committee that he did not even know what was in his own Cap and Trade bill. What business did have faulting anyone about legislation?

This unprecedented debate, between an experienced politician and experienced citizen, brought to the forefront the benefits of electoral reform in California politics in the Post-Prop. 11 and Prop. 14 world. Since only two candidates will compete in the general election for all statewide offices, both candidates must seek out votes from every party, and thus promote a more moderate consensus in their platform and policy proposals. In these candidates’ drive to seek out differing constituencies, the voters in the 33rd Congressional District (hopefully) can expect the winner Nov. 6 to accomplish a proactive agenda getting Congress back to work for the greater good of the country.

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bev November 06, 2012 at 12:02 AM
bloomfield is spending $7M on this race. the only 'declared' republican who ran as such in the primaries, didn't receive ONE word of encouragement or get any contributions from the gop. while some might not think it's important that bill is a lifetime republican (working for mccain 2008 and giving $2.6M to the republicans the past ten years) - it begs the question on how he will manage to maneuver should he get to the hill. keep in mind: his new 'no labels' foundation, in virginia, is a 501(c)4 - that means he - and others with membershp in the organization, don't have to divulge their contributors, the amounts, or where the money goes. how independent does bill really sound to you? how transparent - for having just 'seen the light' - sorry, charlie - hiding behind this new 'no labels' is just more of the same, with a different company name - which will, like prop 32, give super pacs even more room to hide. nope - his declared 'independent' status last year, was just after he contributed to boehner and romney. think about it. he's not being upfront.
Always Right November 06, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Wait and see sparky, wait and see.
Always Right November 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I'll take Bloomfield any time over the devil himself aka Waxman. He is not an honest man.
bev November 06, 2012 at 09:24 PM
no labels is a 501(c)4 organization which doesn't have to disclose its contributors, the amounts or where it spends its money. just like prop 32. get real. bloomfield cofounded this new organization, supposedly apolitical, in virginia to hid money - like the super pacs. it ain't independent. trust your own instincts. why would he hide this information if it were up and up?
j pena November 07, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Well well well, all of you Bloomfield "supporters" what will you do with your time now? The train has left the station and the fake Independent goes down in flames along with his undisclosed financial sources and Republican agenda. GOOD DEAL GO WAXMAN No Labels = Republicans in disguise


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