The Mar Vista recreation center overflowed with Westside political addicts for a candidates’ night for the 53rd Assembly district and the hottest Los Angeles congressional race, between Democratic Rep. Jane Harman and her primary challenger, Marcy Winograd.
Arriving 10 minutes late Tuesday night, I had to park three blocks away. Every seat was taken. People stood along the sides of the room and in the rear and into a patio outside.
Most of the eight candidates were present to speak about their campaigns for the 53rd District seat, vacated by Ted Lieu, who is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The district extends from Santa Monica to Torrance and Lomita and includes some strong liberal areas, such as Venice and Mar Vista. The candidates were impressive. Check out the Daily Breeze web site for thorough profiles of them.
Winograd had the spotlight to herself since Harman didn’t show up, although I am sure the challenger would have liked to see the congresswoman on the stage. They are competing in the 36th District, which reaches from Los Angeles suburbs through beach cities and inland cities. Harman represented the district from 1993 to 1998 when she ran and lost for governor, and was elected to the seat again in 2000. Her personal wealth and campaign contributions make it a tough race for Winograd, who ran against Harman in 2006 and lost by a big margin. She says she lost badly because she entered the race too late. This time, she started early.
Winograd stood with the crowd in the rear of the room listening to the Assembly candidates until a supporter arrived with a sandwich she could eat before she spoke. We chatted while she ate out in the patio. She said she thought her campaign was doing well with a week to go and was pleased by articles about the race in the Los Angeles Times and Salon portraying her as a strong challenger.
Afghanistan and Israel are the big issues. Harman is one of Congress’ strongest Israel backers. Winograd favors a two- state solution but is critical of Israel. Harman supports President Barack Obama’s plan for a slow and phased withdrawal from Afghanistan. Winograd wants us out quickly. The result will be watched nationally as a test of sentiment on the Afghanistan war.
The war, she said, is “draining the economy we need to transit from a war economy to a green economy.”
But, as the cliché goes, all politics is local. Like the other candidates that evening, she promised to ban jets from the Santa Monica airport, a huge issue in the area. There’s a network of anti-jet campaigners in Mar Vista and other neighborhoods afflicted by the noisy planes and Winograd is smart to tap into it.