California’s 33rd District is rated “safely Democrat” by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call and has been represented by Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman for 40 years. Republican Elan Carr just won the 33rd District primary.
Carr and Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu will move on to the general election in November, leaving 16 other candidates in their wake. Among them are establishment Democrats Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller, fundraising whiz-kid David Kanuth, also a Democrat, and Independent best-selling author Marianne Williamson.
The California primaries’ low voter turnout probably helped Carr clinch the race; while the Democrats were busy siphoning off precious votes from each other, the Republicans took advantage and made a strong showing, delivering Carr 21.5% of the vote. That was enough to beat Ted Lieu, who took home 19%, and next-leading candidate Wendy Greuel, who got 16.8%. Independent author and spiritualist Marianne Williamson finished a disappointing fourth with just 12.9%, while Kanuth’s campaign funding didn’t come close to translating into votes; he finished with 1.4% of the vote, behind all three Republicans in the race.
“We did it! We earned a first place finish because you never gave up and fought with us all the way,” said Carr chief strategist John Thomas in a statement. “When we put politics aside and focus on doing what’s right… we can make California a safer place to live where children grow up knowing that they have a chance to succeed.”
Many election analysts had predicted that Carr could sneak through the primary due to a Democratic split, including Breitbart News’ own Joel Pollak. For his own part, Carr always believed he had a serious shot at winning.
“[Bloomfield] won 46 percent against the safest member of the House in a presidential election year when Obama was on the ticket,” he told the Daily Breeze last month. “I think it’s nothing short of foolish to say that two years later, when it’s an open seat and there is not a presidential election, that the seat is not in play.”
Meanwhile, Breitbart News had predicted that state Sen. Ted Lieu held a small but negligible lead in the pre-election polls. His lead ended up being a bit more than negligible; he finished about 2,000 votes ahead of Greuel, not a small number in a low turnout election year.
Marianne Williamson, the most well-known, well-funded Independent candidate in the race, released a statement saying she was “disappointed but not depressed.”
“I feel the campaign succeeded in many ways, holding a meaningful conversation and awakening many hearts and minds,” she said. “To all those who gave so generously… I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This experience has been a blessing on my life and I will never forget it. It has truly been an honor.”
Election-watchers thought this could be a prime year for Independent candidates to challenge established party candidates, but it appears that party designation is still a key factor in voters’ decisions. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Secretary of State race, where indicted Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee, who had dropped out of the race months before, still managed to beat Independent candidate Dan Schnur, who ran a hard-fought campaign. The only possible explanation for Yee’s success is uninformed voters choosing party over candidate.
Still, even though Carr managed to survive the primary, he has a long way to go to beat Ted Lieu in the general election in November; the 33rd district is among the most, if not the most, solidly Democratic districts in the country. Carr will not have the advantage of his opponents splitting votes the next go-around.
For now, he is savoring the win.
“This feels great,” Carr told the Daily Breeze at 2 a.m. “We are pleased and gratified that our message has resonated with the voters of this district. It is a message of creating jobs and economic growth and a message of fixing our schools and taking care of our children and protecting families. I think that’s a winning message.”