Hopefuls woo voters at South Bay candidates forum

Ted Lieu and Elan Carr, vying for Sen. Waxman's seat, square off at candidates forum

Candidates in three South Bay/Westside races on the Nov. 4 ballot made pitches to voters Wednesday night in Rancho Palos Verdes.  On many issues, there was more agreement than dissent -- all for example, said they favored campaign finance reform, although their ideas varied somewhat.

The tightly formatted, back-to-back candidate forums were sponsored by the League of Women Voters' Palos Verdes chapter and the local branch of the American Assn. of University Women.

First up were candidates in the Assembly race in which Republican businessman David Hadley is challenging first-term Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance).

Next came activist and attorney Sandra Fluke and Santa Monica-Malibu school board member Ben Allen, both Democrats vying for an open state Senate seat.

Rounding out the evening were State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and gang prosecutor Elan Carr, a Republican, waging a lopsided battle to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills).

The Hadley-Muratsuchi forum was by far the most contentious:  Hadley accused Muratsuchi of getting the bulk of his campaign money from special interests. Muratsuchi shot back that he, unlike Hadley, is "not an investment banker with a lot of rich friends" he could tap for his campaign.

"The bottom line is, I'm independent," Muratsuchi said. "Just look at my record."

The two also sparred over fracking to extract oil, with Muratsuhi opposed and Hadley saying such decisions should be left to local jurisdictions.

The candidates in the other forums were downright cordial, and the digs, when they came at all, were more subtle. Fluke joked that she and Allen had been participating in so many forums together that each already knew what the other was going to talk about.

Carr and Lieu disagreed over such issues as taxes and whether the minimum wage should be raised (Carr, not now; Lieu, yes) but avoided personal attacks and shook hands at the end.

All three races have drawn a lot of attention and the candidates are participating in multiple forums, each with different sponsors, throughout the districts.

Other League of Women Voters chapters have two more forums scheduled for these races, including one Oct. 15 at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach and another on Oct. 20 at the Cultural Arts Center in Torrance.

Follow @jeanmerl for the latest in Southern California politics news.

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