Two of the underdogs in the crowded field to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) used a candidates forum Wednesday night to lash out at the role of money in political campaigns -- and the media's use of it as a measure of viability.
"I'm tired of hearing candidates raising millions talk about campaign finance reform," Republican Kevin Mottus said during a forum at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills. "The media are more concerned about the amount of dollars you've raised than they are about issues."
Libertarian Mark Matthew Herd agreed, saying, "The biggest problem in politics is money."
Candidates without the money it takes to reach voters in large districts often express frustration that they can't get more news coverage. But whether a candidate can raise money is a key indicator of support, or lack of it.
The race to succeed Waxman has 17 candidates actively campaigning in the 33rd Congressional District, which sprawls from L.A.'s Westside and Malibu down the coast through the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Sixteen participated in Wednesday's forum, including a newcomer to the fray -- write-in candidate Theo Milonopoulos.
The logistics of hosting such a large field were evident. After the opening speeches from all, there was enough time for only three questions; candidates in groups of five or six each got to answer one question, then respond to one of the others' answers.
Questions sometimes had to be repeated and candidates sometimes had trouble remembering what an opponent had said.
Still, the forum gave voters a rare opportunity to hear the candidates as a group and it gave the would-be Waxman successors a chance to connect with voters they might never meet.