First Debate for California’s 33rd U.S. House District Invites only Democratic Candidates

One of the most interesting U.S. House races in California in 2014 is the 33rd, where incumbent Henry Waxman is not running for re-election. On April 13, the first debate in that race was held by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club. Not surprisingly, the Club, being an arm of the Democratic Party, only invited Democrats into that debate. There are 18 candidates on the ballot, including ten Democrats. The Club only invited the four Democrats who have raised at least $200,000: Ted Lieu, Wendy Greuel, Matt Miller, and David Kannoth.

Independent candidate Marianne Williamson has raised several hundred thousand dollars, but she was not invited because she is not a Democrat. This event illustrates one of the many faults with a top-two system held for a partisan office. Williamson has an uphill battle placing first or second in the top-two primary being held June 3; polls suggest the top two spots will go to Lieu and Greuel. Obviously, being excluded from debates does not help Williamson.


First Debate for California’s 33rd U.S. House District Invites only Democratic Candidates — No Comments

  1. Due to divide and conquer math – what are the odds of having 2 Elephants or 1 Elephant and W. win in the top 2 gerrymander primary ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. Why is it news that a Democratic organization held a forum for Democratic candidates and only invited Democrats?

  3. And why is it news, particularly in this space, and to this particular blog editor, that access to the political process is delimited by a minimum amount of money someone has to spend on the endeavor? After all, that’s the direction in which the USSC is moving us, with Richard Winger enthusiastically cheering from the sidelines.

  4. Winger’s a member of the Libertarian Party, if the Wikipedia page about him is correct. So it makes sense that he’d be cheering for it. I disagree with the idea of unlimited campaign/party contributions and such (I’m a Green), but I’m not going to vilify him over his beliefs. The fact that he created and maintains Ballot Access News shows that he’s open minded enough to try and make sure that other political parties and groups that might not have large amounts of money get a fair amount of attention regardless.

  5. I am a strong supporter of public funding for campaigns, as long as the program does not discriminate for or against any candidate on the basis of political affiliation or independent status. I have been working for freer ballot access laws since 1965, before the Libertarian Party even existed. I charge BaronScarpia with being an “injustice collector”; if he really wanted to solve the problem of unequal power in elections because of disparities in the wealth of individuals, he would be working for public funding, but he never even mentions it. He lives in a state that has public funding so he certainly is familiar with how well it can work.

  6. I’m on record in this space as being opposed to public financing of campaigns at any level of government, and being in favor of radical campaign finance reform which would move us in the opposite direction we are currently heading…when public offices will be Ebay items for the super wealthy. I could be convinced to support public financing, however, if and only if all other sources of campaign finance were eliminated or were restricted to such a pojnt of ineffectiveness that they could be drowned in Grover Norquist’s bathtub after he got done drowning government. But as the laws stand now, public financing, it seems to me, is just another tap through which the money is allowed to flow. And while it might give some people the hope that that somehow levels the playing field for third parties, I don’t think it does, and even if it did, it would not solve the fundamental problem in this country, which is the outright purchase of our political process under the guise of exercising “free speech” – a red herring Richard gladly perpetuates. He certainly has not denied it in his last three responses to my posts.

    By the way, Richard…that “success” of public financing of campaigns in my state? Barely 40% of voters here even know it exists.


  7. I believe he brought up the campaign money issue because that was a qualifying factor to being invited to the debate. I may be wrong and would love to be corrected, but that I the way I read it.

  8. Incidentally, Richard, there is an interesting and (in light of your comments above) timely article in The Free Press, a newspaper based in midcoast Maine.

    Here is the link to the full article:

    Your assertion that public financing of campaigns in my state of Maine is simply not supported by the facts. Consider this excerpt:

    “According to a 2013 report released by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, independent expenditures have dwarfed individual candidate spending in recent years. Between 2006 and 2010, the report states that independent expenditures for gubernatorial races increased by 650 percent, from $600,000 in 2006 to over $4 million in 2010. Between 2008 and 2012 legislative independent expenditures increased by 557 percent, from about $600,000 in 2008 to $1.5 million in 2010 and $3.6 million in 2012. It’s also virtually impossible to track the source of that money because the donors often divert their spending through various tax-exempt non-profit organizations that are not required, despite their tax-exempt status, to disclose the source of their funding. The report’s authors analyzed campaign spending in the extremely contentious 2012 Senate District 32 race in Bangor, which reached $454,000 in mostly negative independent ads from both sides despite the fact that challenger Geoff Gratwick and former Sen. Nichi Farnham were both clean election candidates.

    “The researchers traced much of the independent expenditures to sources tied to billionaire business magnate George Soros on the Democratic side and the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers on the Republican side.”

    How “well it can work?” Here? In Maine? Get real.

    So I stand by my opposition to public financing of elections, and I think what’s happened in Maine while we have had public financing in place demonstrates how ineffectual that approach is to solving the real problem of campaign finance in this country.

    The REAL problem is that there is too much money in our campaigns at ALL levels of government.

    And you…YOU are the one who is abetting that problem, my friend, not me. YOU are the third party ideologue who supports USSC decisions that further advance the interests of the wealthy and the powerful while squelching the political voices of little people like you and me.

    Injustice collector? You’re a peddler of political injustice.

  9. Thank you for commenting on this web page. I appreciate everyone’s comments. It makes the site more interesting.

    Why don’t you explain what an ideal campaign finance system would be like?

  10. I already have…several times…on this web site. And I’ve been quite specific.

    How about you tell us why you think public financing of campaigns has “worked” so “well” in Maine? As you so often like to ask me – Did you at least read the article I cited above? How, exactly, do you think Maine’s public financing of campaigns has “worked?”. And what does “worked” mean to you? Are you concerned only with the count of independent or third party candidates that get elected while refusing all but public financing of their campaigns? Is that the only measure you have of the health of our politics and our democracy?

    Do you think the work of A.L.E.C., for instance, is the best expression of democratic ideals we can manage? Do you applaud their work as you applaud the USSC’s decisions to further empower the wealthy? Do you think the Koch brothers and other multi-millionaires and multi–billionaires should be allowed to simply dictate legislation to local bought and paid for stooge legislators?

    That’s just one result our present “system” has produced.

    Now, if you don’t support the work of A.L.E.C., tell us how you think Maine’s system of public financing of political campaigns has thwarted the efforts of A.L.E.C. in the Maine legislature.

    (Hint: it hasn’t)

  11. ALL gerrymander party hack oligarch / monarch incumbents LOVE having limits on donations.

    Such limits help keep the MONSTERS in power.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  12. Very disappointing, Richard.

    I’ve never disclosed my name or my state of residence on your site, and for some reason you’ve decided to reveal both.

    Bad…BAD form, bud.

  13. I have said to you before that your screen name is repugnant to me. You have chosen to use the name of the most sadistic character in all opera, a character who tortures the hero with a metal headband that puts intolerable pressure on the hero’s brain. I had to address you by some sort of name because there were several people making comments and I wanted it to be clear I was addressing you. One of my ancestors was burned at the stake in Switzerland. I abhor torture and I will not use your screen name again. If you want me to delete this thread I will do so.

  14. If it would help you avoid the trauma of using a fictional name, I could give you my social security number and you could address me with it.

    But should think that an apology for your indiscretion would be more appropriate than your jive story.

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