Congressman Henry Waxman was elected to his 20th term in Congress Tuesday night, outdistancing opponent Bill Bloomfield 54 to 46 to represent the newly formed 33rd District.
Waxman, a Democrat, was new to the South Bay after serving 38 years representing a district that hewed closer to his Beverly Hills home. The newly redrawn district includes Beverly Hills but also stretches west to Agoura Hills and south to the Beach Cities and Palos Verdes.
Waxman spent much of the last month becoming acquainted with the southern part of his new district, making numerous appearances in the South Bay and engaging in lively debates with his opponent.
“I want to thank our community for the wonderful support,” Waxman said in statement Wednesday morning. “I will do all I can to honor the extraordinary trust and confidence our district has placed in my by working closely with President Obama to solve the urgent challenges facing out nation.”
Waxman was unavailable for further comment.
Bloomfield’s candidacy was always considered a long shot, given Waxman’s status as an incumbent and the 14 point Democratic edge in registration in the district. But Bloomfield’s mostly self-funded campaign – to which he contributed at least $ 7 million – gave Waxman the steepest challenge of his Congressional career. Waxman had never taken less than 61 percent of the vote and last election earned 65 percent.
Bloomfield, 62, had never run for public office before. He said Wednesday morning that the way election night unfolded briefly gave his campaign hope they’d pulled off an upset of nearly unprecedented proportions. With a quarter of precincts reporting at nearly 1 a.m., Bloomfield was leading by four percentage points.
Bloomfield, a Manhattan Beach resident, said by the time he went to bed at 3 a.m. Waxman had taken the lead for good.
“It was quite a ride,” he said. “I think I could have done without the temptation last night of watching the votes come in the way they came in. Just let me see what the results are. Looking at it the way it unfolded, I admit to being disappointed. Looking at the big picture, we accomplished most of what we set out to accomplish, and I reel really good about it.”
Bloomfield, the co-founder of the “No Labels” non-partisan organization, was a financial backer both of the redistricting effort and new open primary system. His candidacy, which had no party affiliation, was in a sense a test of both new facets of the California election landscape.
“We brought democracy to the 33rd Congressional District,” Bloomfield said. “I am hopeful it will lead to more states enacting redistricting and open primaries. I am hopeful it will lead to more people doing what I did, which is running a non-partisan campaign, regardless of whether they have party label or not.”
Bloomfield said he has no plans to run for office again but left open the possibility, noting that he had some interest in turning his attention to state politics. He also expressed admiration for Waxman, whom he came to know in the course of this campaign.
“He was very respectful and I really appreciated it,” Bloomfield said. “I grew to like the guy as a person. I was always respectful, even before I’d ever met him, with his 44 years of public service – I am in awe of that. But as a person, how he treated me, how he conducted himself, I was very impressed.” ER