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Elan Carr Looks to End Democrats' 40-Year Hold on Calif. Congressional Seat

by Danielle Balderas, published

After 40 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Henry Waxman (D) is stepping down. As the November election approaches, voters of California’s 33rd Congressional District must decide which candidate will replace the Democratic stalwart, Republican Elan Carr or Democrat Ted Lieu.

Comprised of Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Malibu (among others), the 33rd is one of the wealthiest congressional districts in the nation. The redrawing of district lines in 2011 and California's first top-two open primary gave rise to Waxman's first competitive re-election bid in 2012. Bill Bloomfield, a longtime Republican who ran as an Independent, lost by 8 percentage points.

Waxman secured his seat for one last term after an expensive campaign season.

Now, Carr is attempting to disrupt the Democrat’s 40-year hold on the seat. He is running against Ted Lieu, a California state senator.

The June primary fielded a plethora of candidates with

10 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Carr won the primary with Lieu placing in a close second, 21.6 percent to 18.8 percent. However, registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the 33rd District (43.9% to 28.4%).

This race is proving to be one of the most expensive House races in California. Each candidate has spent over $1 million and Lieu is closing in on $2 million.

Both Carr and Lieu have highlighted their immigrant history. Carr’s mother fled to Israel from Iraq and his step-father escaped Nazi-occupied Bulgaria by fleeing to Israel. The two eventually immigrated to the United States to become full citizens. Similarly, Lieu immigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was three years old.

As a Jewish Republican, Carr has gained attention from Jewish publications such as the Jewish Journal and both Carr and Lieu are staunchly pro-Israel.

In a debate on October 22, hosted by KPCC and USC, Carr and Lieu elaborated on where they stand on Israel, as well as other key issues. Both candidates support Israel's right to self-defense.

"Israel has an absolute right to self-defense… the right to not have 3,000 rockets launched at it and America needs to protect Israel and her security,” Lieu said.

Carr also expressed support for U.S.-Israeli relations.

"Pressuring Israel publicly or ciriticizing the way Isreal conducts negotiations is not the way friends treat each other,” he said.   .

The debate made apparent that the two candidates also share common ground on providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Lieu supports the Senate immigration reform and would press the speaker of the house to allow a vote on the issue.

“We’ve got to secure our borders, but we also have to have a sensible and humane approach to the many undocumented residents who are here in this country who are decent, hardworking, and patriotic people…There's got to be a pathway to legalized status,” Carr elaborated.

However, Carr and Lieu disagree on some key issues.

Lieu is opposed to any fracking in California while Carr says he is open to energy exploration in California, provided it is safe and backed up by good, hard science. And while Lieu supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, Carr opposes such a raise on the grounds that increasing the minimum wage would hurt businesses and prevent new job creation.

The two military veterans also spoke about ISIS and where they differed on the U.S. response. Lieu made it clear that he is completely opposed to boots on the ground.

While Carr opposes ground forces in the current climate, he said he would not take ground forces completely off the table. Drawing on his experience in Iraq, Carr said, “You don’t use the United State militarily sparingly, you either use it not at all, or to decisive effect...To do it halfway is dangerous for America.”

Based on the political leanings of the district, Carr is fighting an uphill battle. He is hoping President Obama's low approval rating will help him garner votes on Election Day.

In an interview with American Thinker, Carr explained:

“The sixth year of any presidency has the electorate tending to break decidedly against the president’s party. It is called the 'Six-Year Itch.' Because the president’s poll numbers are quite low and voters are worried about the economy, jobs, the national debt, and education, I think I have a good chance.”

As of October 28, within the last week, outside spending supporting Carr exceeded $300,000 (mostly on broadcast and television media), and in only a single day, outside spending against Lieu exceeded $50,000.

In a district made up of almost 44 percent Democrats, Carr will have to sway a substantial amount of voters outside his party.  However, given the strong legacy left by Waxman, it will be difficult for a Republican to grab the seat.

Image: Republican Elan Carr (left), Calif. State Senator Ted Lieu (right)

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