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California

Steve Lopez: Who wants to replace Waxman? Key seat up for grabs

Rep. Henry Waxman To Retire
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection after 40 years in Congress.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

So now that U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman has announced his retirement, who will replace the longtime D.C. insider and Westside liberal, an influential player on healthcare, environment, tobacco and other big issues in Congress for four decades?

Too soon to say, because Waxman’s announcement seems to have caught a lot of people, including allies, by surprise. What’s certain is that California, and Los Angeles in particular, will lose some clout in Washington, where seniority is a ticket to influential posts.

Two independent candidates had already announced challenges, but they’d be long shots against more well-known candidates who might jump into the race now.

There was lots of speculation this morning about Zev Yaroslavsky, the termed-out L.A. County supervisor and 40-year political and policy ally of Waxman. Yaroslavsky has been known to covet a congressional seat in the past, but his only official comment Thursday morning was that he’s still considering the political implications of Waxman’s announcement.

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If I had to bet, I’d say he’s in.

And you have to wonder if either Bobby Shriver or Sheila Kuehl,  both running to replace Yaroslavsky, might reconsider and go for Waxman’s open seat instead. If so, they’d have to move quickly, and Kuehl might have the greater hurdle because she’s raised several hundred-thousand dollars specifically for the supervisor race.

Another question to think about:

Who in their right mind would want to work in Congress?

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It’s an institution loathed by the masses, fraught with clownish divisiveness, and supremely, dysfunctionally inept.

“If I want to experience a life outside of Congress, I need to start soon,” said Waxman, who’s been on the job 40 years.

Your thoughts on who you’d like to see replace him?

 

Twitter: @latstevelopez

steve.lopez@latimes.com

 

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