Filling Waxman’s shoes State Sen. Ted Lieu and prosecutor Elan Carr talk global warming and immigration reform as they seek to replace Rep. Henry Waxman in the nation’s least-popular political body

Elan Carr and Ted Lieu

Elan Carr and Ted Lieu

On Nov. 4, Westside voters will send a new face to the House of Representatives for the first time in nearly two generations.
With the impending retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman (D- Beverly Hills) after 40 years on Capitol Hill, state Sen. Ted Lieu and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr are vying to take over the reins of California’s 33rd Congressional District.

A longtime member of the California Legislature, Lieu has already represented much of the district, which includes Santa Monica, Venice, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey and a portion of Playa del Rey as well as Beverly Hills, Malibu and much of the South Bay.

Carr, a gang prosecutor, has recently begun to introduce himself to district voters through television commercials touting his prosecution of a gang member who received a life sentence for the murder of a popular high school basketball player.

Both candidates have compelling personal biographies as first-generation sons of immigrants — Carr’s family came from Iraq; Lieu’s from Taiwan — and have emphasized their service as officers in the U.S. Army and Air Force, respectively.

Carr won the higher percentage of votes in the June primary (21.5% to Lieu’s 18.8%), though Lieu faced stiff competition from his own party in former L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel (16.6%) and public radio host Matt Miller (12%) as well as left-leading Independent candidate Marianne Williamson (13.2%). Two other Republicans in the race combined for less than 10% of the vote.

Carr had raised $824,319 in campaign cash and spent $578,735 as of June 30, the last federal reporting deadline. Lieu had raised $1,208,248 and spent $1,057,883 during that same period.

Each candidate boasts prominent endorsements — Carr has former presidential candidate Mitt Romney; Lieu has Waxman — but the winner will join a government body that is the most unproductive and unpopular at any time in history, with a reputation for gridlock and hyper-partisanship.

Unlike the House, however, this contest has so far remained civil.
— Gary Walker

Elan Carr
Party: Republican
Age: 46
Residence: Beverly Hills
Occupation: Criminal gang prosecutor

Endorsements: Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, former L.A. County District Atty. Steve Cooley, L.A.

What makes you the better choice in this race and sets you apart from your opponent?
Elan Carr: The key in this current climate is to find ways to bring people together. My whole campaign, my whole persona, has entirely and consistently been about bipartisanship and moving the country forward. As a gang prosecutor, I get to see in a very visceral way our broken schools and our broken communities and I want to lift both of them up.

Where do you see crucial funding opportunities for the district that you think could continue to bolster the economy?
We need federal funding in our district, but there should be conditions placed on some of the funding that we receive. For example, I think we need more funding for education. Why should there be a condition where teachers receive merit pay but we don’t talk about tenure reform? We also need to fix the Affordable Care Act by keeping the good things in it but making it so it doesn’t suffocate doctors out of the medical profession and limit patient choice.

What should be done about the Santa Monica Airport at the end of 2015, when several local groups are advocating for its closure?
There is absolutely a need for measures to ameliorate the noise and discomfort for residents living near the airport. But rather than close the airport it could be used to attract businesses. We should employ all the assets that we have to attract and keep businesses in California, and transportation jobs are a part of that.

This is a largely coastal district. Considering warnings about sea-level rise, what is your position on climate change and would you vote for legislation to combat it?
There’s no question that the global climate has changed and temperatures have been rising, and I think there is sufficient evidence that a lot of this has been caused by humans. I’m in favor of measures to reduce greenhouse gases. I also think that it’s very important that in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases we aren’t being punitive to American businesses and California businesses. I’d also be in favor of challenging countries like China and India to do more to reduce greenhouse gases.

Like your opponent, you are the son of immigrants. What is your position on immigration reform?
I think it is an absolute outrage that we do not have comprehensive immigration reform done. I think fixing this problem is a moral imperative and it should be fixed immediately. Part of immigration reform is border security. I view this is a public safety issue, not a political issue. Border security has been unnecessarily politicized. So we’ve got to secure our borders for the safety of our families. We also have to find a sensible and humane solution for decent, law-abiding, patriotic undocumented residents to eventually get a path to citizenship.

The district’s demographics heavily favor a Democratic candidate. Given the highly partisan nature of national politics, what is your strategy to overcome this advantage?
Voters of all stripes are craving new leaders, and they’re looking for candidates who want to protect them and work in a bipartisan way. We’ve noticed lately that Democratic women in our district between the ages of 35 and 55 are gravitating towards me because these women are mothers and they care about taking care of our kids and our communities. So my strategy is to appeal to all voters of the district because the issues that I’m running on are not Democratic or Republican issues — they’re American issues.

What would your highest priorities be if elected?
The top priority of any government is to keep its citizens safe, so that is also one of my top priorities. But that doesn’t mean only handcuffs and jails. Good schools are a public safety issue as much as it is about education. And we also need to have good jobs for when students graduate from healthy, wholesome, safe schools. And we need to return American leadership overseas. We can’t keep Americans safe at home unless we have leadership overseas.

Ted Lieu
Party: Democrat
Age: 45
Residence: Torrance
Occupation: State senator / Air Force reserve officer
Endorsements: Rep. Henry Waxman, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe, former L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, Peace Officers Research Association of California, California League of Conservation Voters

What makes you the better choice in this race and sets you apart from your opponent?
Ted Lieu: I have a record of delivering results to the district that I have represented in both the Assembly and the state Senate. I have fought for funds for the district on climate change and transportation, and I have a record of accomplishments in the district.

Where do you see crucial funding opportunities for the district that you think could continue to bolster the economy?
I still believe growing our economy and job creation is critical, and I will look at where we can fund some of these initiatives that I think will grow our economy. I don’t believe that we’re going to compete in the global economy here in America by making socks. We have a growing sector of the economy in Silicon Beach, with innovation and creativity in Venice and Santa Monica. We have the travel and tourism sectors that we have to continue to invest in. We have the ports as well, and we have to help incentivize these industries so we can keep jobs in California.

What should be done about the Santa Monica Airport at the end of 2015, when several local groups are advocating for its closure?
I support the City Council’s positions (Measure LC) and its decision not to renew the airport’s lease with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). As a member of Congress I would make sure that Santa Monica’s decision is implemented.

This is a largely coastal district. Considering warnings about sea-level rise, what is your position on climate change and would you vote for legislation to combat it?
I authored legislation, Senate Bill 1066, that made $1.5 million available to coastal communities for research on how to address sea-level rise, which is a result of climate change. I would also reintroduce Waxman-Markey [legislation sponsored by Waxman and Senator Edward Markey, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, that was designed to reduce global warming gas emissions]. I was the co-author of Assembly Bill 32 in California [the legislation that established a comprehensive program to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% by 2020]. We need the nation to do what California has done regarding climate change and sea-level rise.

Like your opponent, you are the son of immigrants. What is your position on immigration reform?
I support comprehensive immigration reform. The [U.S] Senate has already passed a bill and there are enough votes in the House of Representatives also, but the Tea Party extremists have captured the Republican House and will not allow a vote. So I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform.

If elected, you would be part of the minority for the first time in your political career. How would you adjust to that new dynamic?
I have always had a history of working with both parties in the state legislature in a bipartisan way. I have authored legislation with Republicans, and I have worked with a Republican governor to pass laws. My view is it doesn’t matter which party comes up with an idea — it only matters if it’s a good idea.

What would your highest priorities be if elected?
Protecting a woman’s right to choose, increasing research and development grants to universities like UCLA, continuing to improve health care and combating climate change, which is an existential threat to humanity. I will work every day on fighting climate change.

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