The League of Women Voters runs a tight ship, as one of candidates to succeed a retiring congressman found out Saturday.
The occasion was a gathering in Torrance organized by three South Bay chapters of the League. Fourteen of the 17 candidates still actively campaigning to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) participated.
The rules were spelled out at the start of the forum: no going over the time limit, no personal attacks, no addressing any of the other candidates.
But one of the candidates managed to break two of the rules at once. And nearly paid the price.
Democrat Vince Flaherty started to denounce two of the other candidates by name when the moderator cut him off with a "that is not allowed."
He then went over his allotted time to answer a question and kept talking despite signals from the time-keeper and admonishments from the standing-room-only audience.
"Mr. Flaherty," a League official told him, "if this reoccurs, you will have to leave."
Flaherty, though obviously frustrated by the short time allowed each candidate, apologized and kept his seat.
When it was his turn to give two-minute closing remarks, he quipped, "Well, I'm back."
The League of Women Voters forum was likely the last time most of the candidates in the race will appear together before the June 3 primary.
The race for the Westside/South Bay-based 33rd Congressional District seat has drawn the largest field of any contest on the state ballot.
Under California's relatively new top-two elections system, only the first- and second-place finishers in the primary, regardless of any party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.