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GOOD Voter Guide to California: U.S. House of Representatives GOOD Voter Guide to California: U.S. House of Representatives
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GOOD Voter Guide to California: U.S. House of Representatives

October 25, 2010

Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be publishing primers about the important items on the ballot in California as part of our GOOD Voter Guide.

The number of U.S, Representatives per state is based on population of each state; they serve two-year terms without limit.

U.S. House of Representatives: 27th District

Mark Reed

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: Mark Reed identifies himself as a "Conservative Constitutionalist Republican," which is a dog-whistle codeword for rolling back federal civil rights protections and increasing the rights of corporations. According to his website, he is seeking Congressional office because of the “real-world” consequences of the national debt being “piled on” his “thrifty and self-reliant” children and grandchildren. The solution is to increase the debt in order to finance further tax cuts for the wealthiest, and to eliminate or sharply reduce social safety net programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Background and History: Reed is a successful actor, avid rancher, and owner of several pool cleaning and supply companies. He is a “descendant of the Mohawk and Apache, mixed with German, English, Spanish and French” who was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He has a high-school degree from El Camino Real High, and attended, though apparently did not graduate from, Pierce Junior College.

Civil Rights: Reed believes that Republican Party “has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks,” and focuses on the GOP’s proud pre-1960’s civil rights history. Moreover, and quite contrary to reality, Reed believes that “Martin Luther King was a Republican.” His understanding of civil rights, taken from a document linked on his website, is that some organization called the “Democrat Party … is and always has been, the party of slavery, secession [and] segregation,” and therefore, African-Americans should support the Republican Party. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Regarding more contemporary civil rights issues, Mark Reed believes that there is an “epidemic” of illegal immigration, and that undocumented workers take a moral and financial toll on taxpayers. He has a plan for increased border security that is “founded in honor and respect” for legal immigrants, and states that completing the border wall will “stem the tide” of illegal immigration.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Reed wants to make economic policy with the working class in mind, and believes that this is best accomplished by cutting taxes on businesses and the wealthiest. His position on economic issues is that President Obama and the Democratic Party want to reward "unproductive" members of society and penalize the "industrious.”
Also, although he opposes organized labor, Mark Reed highlights his activism as a board member and committee chair of the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Environmental Responsibility: Reed is a climate change denier. The central focus of his environmental position is that global warming is a “hoax” perpetrated by corrupt scientists, and for evidence he cites the luminaries of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Reed does not think that there are any other important environmental issues that are worth highlighting.

Health Care: Reed vows to “repeal and replace” the Obama Administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he denounces as socialism and compares to British tyranny over the American Colonists. Interestingly, however, the “replace” portion of his plan includes many of the popular programs and policies that have already been enacted in the Affordable Care Act, including insurance exchanges, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and efforts to bolster preventative medicine. He has a 10 step plan for healthcare reform that includes deregulating insurance companies in order to allow them to sell cheap and insufficient policies across state lines, and tort reform to reduce malpractice lawsuits.

International Issues: The majority of Mark Reed's opinions on international issues are vaguely worded statements about freedom and terrorists. He is much more specific about his support for Israel, his belief that the Obama administration is “anti-Israel,” and his position that the administration’s policies demonstrate “outright anti-semitism.” As evidence he (falsely) asserts that President Obama refused to dine with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, criticizes Obama for “bowing to Muslim Leaders,” and for supporting "multi-national resolutions to strip Israel of nuclear weapons.”

Fun Facts: Reed calls himself a “successful” actor, however the only IMDb listing for Mark S. Reed is for “stunts” on a 2005 TV movie, “Jane Doe: The Wrong Face.”

Key Donors and Endorsements: Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, Nikki Sixx bassist for Motley Crü, Republican Party of LA County, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Congressman Buck McKeon, Ranking Member House Armed Services Committee.

Sources: Internet Movie Database; Mark Reed; Vote Smart; Screen Actors Guild

 

Brad Sherman

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: Congressman Brad Sherman cites job creation is his top priority, and voted for legislation that created more than three million jobs and accelerated freeway construction in the San Fernando Valley. He believes that the best way to improve the economy is to invest in infrastructure and transportation, and to stand up against Wall Street. He successfully worked to improve the Wall Street Reform legislation to prevent future bank bailouts. Additionally, Sherman cites legislation that he authored to protect consumers form credit and mortgage fraud, increase capital requirements for banks and end conflicts of interest for bond rating agencies. He is a strong advocate of fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. Brad Sherman believes in fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare from Republican attempts at privatization.

Background and History: Sherman was born and raised in Southern California, and is a married father of two daughters. He attended public schools, and graduated from UCLA and Harvard Law. He currently serves as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, and is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. Before serving in Congress, Brad Sherman was a member of the State Board of Equalization, and advised small businesses as a Tax Law Specialist and CPA.     

Civil Rights: Sherman has been a forceful opponent of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. He supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which preserves the rights of women to access the courts to challenge unequal workplace practices. He also supports repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which prevents gay soldiers from serving openly in the military.
 
Economic Responsibility / Justice: Sherman claims to have lead the effort to oppose the bank bailout program, being an early and outspoken critic of the Bush Administration’s Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the first version of the TARP bank bailout program. He eventually voted for the modified TARP program. He points out that he was a strong advocate of capping Wall Street bonuses, standing up to the Obama administration on this issue, and has been zealous about monitoring the TARP program for fraud and efficiency.

Environmental Responsibility: Sherman is a strong advocate of progressive environmental policies, and works to prevent the federal government from weakening California’s environmental laws. He is proud of his efforts to expand and improve parkland conservation in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Sepulveda Basin. He is a proponent of expanding bike lanes, and strongly supports policies that would expand alternative fuel use. He has a 100% voting score from the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

Health Care: Sherman was integral to the passage of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, which includes closing the prescription drug “donut-hole,” lowering prescription drug costs for senior citizens, and approaches universal coverage.

Education: Sherman opposes the expansion of private voucher programs, and strongly supports increased federal funding for education, including voting for billions of dollars to help modernize public and charter schools, making them more energy efficient, and saving local school districts money. He has supported grants to historically Black colleges, and supported the Student Loan Reform Act, which expands Federal Pell Grants to college students.

Reproductive Freedom: Sherman supports a woman’s right to choose, and strongly favors keeping abortion legal. Sherman also is a an advocate for federal grants for stem cell research.

International Issues: Sherman believes that Israel is the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East, and has long supported the continuation and expansion of U.S. aid to Israel, including military aid. He was a critic of the Gaza Flotilla, claiming that the flotilla organizers were connected to Hamas.

Sherman believes that a nuclear Iran is the biggest threat to Israel and U.S. national security interests. He authored legislation to increase economic sanctions on Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Fun Facts: Sherman was featured on Stephen Colbert’s “Better Know a District” segment, during which he did an admittedly “bad impersonation” of a robot, and claimed to know nothing about the Valley being the home of the porn industry.

Key Donors and Endorsements: AARP, Sierra Club, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, Planned Parenthood, and the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Among he top contributors to his campaign are ActBlue, Rodeo Realty, and Ticketmaster Corp.

Sources: Brad Sherman; The Colbert Show; YouTube; The Washington Post; GovTrack; Open Secrets; San Francisco Examiner; Vote Smart; On the Issues


U.S. House of Representatives: 28th District

Howard Berman

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: It’s difficult to find anything that can be called an actual campaign platform. He is for improving America’s diplomatic strength through a reauthorization of the State Department, assistance to fight terrorism in Pakistan, and improving the efficiency of U.S. foreign aid.

Background and History: Berman was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended UCLA, receiving his B.A. in 1962. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1973, and clearly made an impression on his colleagues: they named Berman Majority Leader during his first term, the youngest to ever hold that position. This probably has something to do with Berman’s skill at establishing the “Berman-Waxman” political “machine” that has dominated Democratic party politics in West Los Angeles ever since. In 1983 he was elected to the US Congress and he’s been there ever since. He has been delegate to the Democratic National Convention multiple times and in 2008 he was one of those fancy “super delegates” that everyone was going on about. He’s chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and a self-described “liberal.”

Civil Rights: Berman is an advocate of gun control, and has co-sponsored legislation banning Assault Weapons for civilian use. He’s voted against banning the desecration of the Flag, against the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act”, and against the death penalty. In 2000, Berman was the first recipient of the now annual Farmworker Justice award. (Subsequent recipients include: Hilda Solis and Ted Kennedy). He has voted no on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Berman has supported several pieces of legislation designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, including the home buyer tax credit. He is a supporter of free trade, voted for NAFTA and other free trade agreements, and supports U.S. involvement with the World Trade Organization. He co-sponsored legislation to combat wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or age.

Environmental Responsibility: Berman was bummed when cap and trade climate change legislation died in the Senate. First of all, he believes in climate change, and that we should probably do something about it. He voted against drilling for oil in the ANWAR reserve, a few times. He’s fought to strengthen and preserve the Endangered Species Act, and an act that added millions of acres to federally protected lands (including the San Gabriel mountains, the Eastern Sierra, and Sequoia Wilderness). Recently, he supported the “Cash for Clunkers” program designed to get more fuel efficient cars on the roads.

Health Care: Berman voted in favor of the Obama Administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He also voted for the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that requires health plans to offer the same treatment benefits for mental health coverage as they do for other physical illnesses. He believes that the single-payer model is the best approach to providing universal healthcare coverage.

Education: Has worked to increase funding and grants for education in SoCal, supported the Higher Education Opportunity Act, and has passed legislation which requires Congress to fulfill its commitment to fund No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Reproductive Freedom: Berman is strongly pro-choice, with a 100 percent NARAL score, plus numerous votes in favor of stem cell research.

International: Howard voted for the Iraq war in 2002. He is one of the leading advocates for continuing the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel. He received an A+ from DarfurScores.org, with extra credit for co-sponsoring the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. ?

Fun Facts: He’s serious about Israel. In 2008 he was quoted saying, “Even before I was a Democrat, I was a Zionist.” Also, it is almost impossible to find any indication on the internet that Berman is, in fact, running for re-election. Guess he is not that worried.

Key Donors and Endorsements: As of June, Howard had raised almost $1.8 million. The top 5 contributors to his campaign: News Corp, Walt Disney Co, Time Warner, NorPac (“Pro-Israel” PAC), National Amusements Inc. (owns movie theaters and apparently, quite a few of them.)

Other: Berman's record gets a little funky around redistricting. In 2001, he and his political consultant brother, Michael, authored the bipartisan redistricting scenario that has been called an “incumbent protection plan.” The plan ensured 34 safe Democratic seats, while “awarding” the GOP an additional seat. When the plan went public, fellow Dem Brad Sherman complained, saying that he now had too many Hispanic voters, so Howard went back to the plan and gave himself more of the Latino population. MALDEF sued, saying this diluted Hispanic representation but the plan went ahead anyway. Funky.

Sources: Open Secrets; The Washington Post; Farmworker Justice; U.S. House; On the Issues; Forward; Berkeley


Carlos Rodriguez

Political Party: Libertarian

Candidate Platform: Carlos Rodriguez believes that in smaller government, and that “the sole function of government should be to uphold the law, maintain order and provide for defense. Period.” He believes that national bankruptcy is “INEVITABLE” and does not want his “children growing up in a bankrupt, third world country.” The solution: “seriously slash spending … privatize, de-regulate, and reduce taxes.”

Background and History: Carlos Rodriguez was born in Cuba, but escaped that “communist prison” with his mother in 1970. He grew up in Yonkers, New York, and attended “PRIVATE” schools. He studied Government and Politics at Manhattan College, a small Christian college in the Bronx. “Having been traumatized by brutal winters,” Rodriguez moved to Miami, where he worked as an immigration lawyer. Again feeling the need to seek better weather, Carlos moved to California in 2001.

Civil Rights: Rodriguez is passionate about immigration reform, and believes the issue “will bring about the death” of the Republican Party. He is a strong believer in the hard work and character of undocumented individuals, and believes that the federal government is the problem, not the solution. His solution is a combination of the Bush plan and the Democratic plan: a guest worker program and an eventual review of individuals who are “worthy of the American Dream.”

Environmental Responsibility: Rodriguez does not emphasize environmental issues, but, being the Libertarian nominee, its probably safe to say that he believes environmental regulation is unacceptable government intrusion into the free market.

Health Care: Rodriguez writes that government involvement and “control” of health care is the cause of the problems facing the country. Safe to say he is not a supporter of government efforts to expand insurance coverage and regulate insurance companies. He advocates eliminating the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Drug Administration.

Education: Rodriguez highlights his private school education, but, other than eliminating the Department of Education, does not seem to have any specific policies for improving the public education system.

International Issues: Rodriguez believes that terrorism is caused by the presence of U.S. troops and military bases in the Middle East. He wants all U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Fun Facts: He says the Founding Fathers are his mentors.

Sources: Rodriguez Goes to Washington, Liberty Candidates.org, SmartVoter.org

 

U.S. House of Representatives: 29th District

John P. Colbert

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: Colbert (pronounced Kohl-bert, not Kohl-bare) is running on a platform of “honest, ethical, and sensible governance.” Aside from general statements about corruption, Colbert plans to change things by utilizing his experience as a former law enforcement officer. “It starts with enforcement of the rules.” Aside from fantasizing about personally arresting other members of Congress, Colbert focuses on lowering taxes, reducing the debt, and creating jobs. Unsurprisingly, he also wants to repeal the deficit reducing portions of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform.

Background and History: Colbert served for 13 years as a law enforcement officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has never held elective office. Following his time in law enforcement, Colbert was the CEO of Guidance Software, Inc., which produced the materials, training and software that supported computer forensic investigations. And, under the category that photos are worth a thousand words, Colbert’s campaign website prominently displays a photo of the candidate with Grover Norquist – founder of the Club for Growth (a radical conservative anti-government and anti-tax group), and board member of the National Rifle Association.

Civil Rights: No publicly available position on civil rights.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: According to Colbert’s campaign site “We must reduce regulations and get government out of the pockets of the American people.” He supports eliminating the Estate Tax, which would entirely benefit the very wealthiest Americans and add hundreds of billions to the deficit over the coming years.

Environmental Responsibility: Colbert focuses on environmental sustainability, but don’t let that phrase fool you. His definition of sustainability is increased oil drilling along California’s coasts, and reducing gas prices. Colbert’s opposed to Cap and Trade legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions and prevent global climate change. He supports expanded use of nuclear power, waste energy, geothermal, solar, and wind power. Colbert blames the “anti-human” policies of the EPA for producing a water crisis in the Central Valley.

Health Care: On health care, the chorus of anti-government conservative positions continues with Colbert’s call for repeal of President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, and hysterical claims about it being “unethical … and a willful and intentional violation of the law.” Colbert’s solution relies on Republican talking points about allowing “competition” across state lines, and tort reform.

Education: Colbert does not mention education on his campaign website. But, given his repeated focus on cutting taxes and reducing government makes it highly unlikely that Mr. Colbert would support additional federal funding for K–12 education or Pell Grants (higher education support for qualifying low-income students).

Reproductive Freedom: ?No comment.

International Issues: Colbert does not state whether or not he would have supported operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the words Iraq and Afghanistan do not appear on his website. Moreover, his stance of national security and defense seems more concerned with taxes and deficits than a specific policy. He states that "by 2015 our interest payments on the national debt will exceed our defense budget; we will not be able to afford the necessary upgrades that protect the lives of our soldiers."

Fun Facts: In 2002, Mr. Colbert donated $1,000 to the Congressional campaign of his opponent, Adam Schiff. Additionally, many other employees of have contributed money to Adam Schiff’s campaigns over the past eight years.

Key Donors and Endorsements: Newt Gingrich

Sources: Colbert for Congress; Maplight
 

Bill Cushing

Political Party: Libertarian

Candidate Platform: Cushing believes the Libertarian Party “represents our nation’s greatest minority: the individual.” He pledges that his first action if elected would be to pass the following Constitutional Amendment: "Whereas the power of these United States resides in their laws and not in the individuals residing, Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of these United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of these United States." We have no idea what that means, either.

Background and History: Cushing is originally from Queens, New York, and he moved to Glendale, California, in 1996. He holds a B.A. from the University of Central Florida and a MFA in “nonfiction writing” from Goddard College in Vermont. He is currently an English teacher at the community college level in Southern California.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Libertarians can usually be relied upon to be passionate about economic issues, but Cushing’s website is oddly devoid of economic policy statements. The only statement about economic policy to be found is a short blog entry condemning Nancy Pelosi’s praise for the job creating effects of unemployment benefits. Cushing derides the idea that unemployment benefits have positive economic impact as “moronic and incorrect.” It’s a good thing that Mr. Cushing teaches English instead of Economics, because two-thirds of the members of the National Association for Business Economics (not exactly a progressive organization) supported the idea that unemployment benefits have a positive effect on economic growth.

Health Care: As a primary tenet of his ideology, Mr. Cushing states that he has a “basic distrust of government-operated programs.” Unfortunately, he provides no specific position or alternative to the recent healthcare legislation other than to state; “I simply do not believe that this problem can be solved with further legislation.” On the other hand, Cushing would like to apply the Hippocratic Oath, “first do no harm,” as he considers whether to vote for any proposed law.

Fun Facts: For anyone who is undecided about their ideological leanings you can find a link on Cushing’s website that connects to a quick quiz intended to answer the question: “Am I a Libertarian?”

Sources: Cushing for Congress; Nabe.com


Adam Schiff

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: Schiff emphasizes national security and foreign policy rooted in diplomacy. He pledges to work to improve quality of life for the communities of his district, with a special focus on health, safety, and education of children.

Background and History: Schiff was first elected to represent California’s 29th Congressional District in 2000. He is a graduate of Stanford University (B.A. 1982) and Harvard Law (J.D. 1985). (Your basic highly acomplished over-achiever.) In addition, Schiff sits on the very powerful House Appropriations Committee, which determines all discretionary federal expenditures each year. And, in a break with standing Democratic Caucus practice, Schiff was permitted to remain on the House Judiciary Committee. These two committees are considered the 1st and 3rd most power in the House respectively. This dual role allows Schiff substantial influence on both policy and spending issues. Before all this, he served a 4-year term as State Senator for California's 21st District. He also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles for 6 years, most notably prosecuting the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage. Sexy.

Civil Rights: During the 110th Congress, Schiff voted in favor of stronger protections for gays and lesbians in the workplace. Moreover, he sponsored a resolution to bring recognition to ongoing problem of human trafficking.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: In past years, Schiff has voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage. More recently he supported extending unemployment benefits. Finally, he supported President Obama's economic stimulus bill and assistance to families facing foreclosure.

Environmental Responsibility: Adam supports Cap and Trade climate change legislation to create a market for trading pollution credits on carbon dioxide. In addition, he supported President Obama's repeal of a long-standing moratorium on off-shore oil and natural gas drilling.

Health Care: Schiff voted during the 110th Congress to expand health care coverage to uninsured children (formally known as SCHIP) as well as for President Obama's healthcare reform legislation.

Education: Schiff supported the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. In subsequent years, he has supported student loan forgiveness for teachers as well as President Obama's student loan reform legislation, which increased funding for Pell Grants and federally-subsidized student loan limits, and restructured the role of private banks within the higher education lending market.

Reproductive Freedom?: Schiff is a strong supporter of reproductive freedoms. During the last Congress he voted against efforts to restrict federal funding for abortions as well as against rules that would prevent military personnel from obtaining an abortion overseas. Finally, he voted against legislative amendments that would have required more strict parental notifications and limitations on late-term procedures.

International Issues: Schiff voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq (H.R. Res 114, also known as the Iraq war resolution). Since then he has supported funding for the armed forces as well as several legislative proposals that would have ordered troop redeployments within 90 days.

Fun Facts: Schiff is married to a woman named Eve. True.

Sources: Schiff for Congress, SmartVoter.org; Thomas
 

U.S. House of Representatives: 30th District

Richard R. Castaldo

Political Party: Peace and Freedom

Candidate Platform: Besides to "Rock the System?” Castaldo wants to de-fund all wars of imperialism (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc.). He supports universal single-payer healthcare, wants to abolish corporate "personhood,” end corporate and bank bailouts, and create green jobs. He also wants to terminate the Patriot Act and restore the Bill of Rights.

Background and History: Castaldo is a sound engineer with a degree to prove it. He's from San and attended the state college there and the Arapahoe community college. Castaldo attended Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and was a victim of the infamous shootings there in April, 1999. As a result, Castaldo remains in a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury. He has been a subject of numerous documentaries including Bowling For Columbine and Peacejam. Castaldo, we are truly sorry to hear about that. Fight on.

Fun Facts: He has a very groovy mustache. 179 people “like” his campaign Facebook page. He lists California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s television commercials as his “least favorite thing ever.”

Sources: SmartVoter.org; Peace and Freedom; Castaldo for Congress

Erich Miller

Political Party: Libertarian

Candidate Platform: As a Libertarian, Miller defends the right of people to engage in “any activity that is peaceful and honest.” (Except vote for Democrats or Republicans.) He believes that the two major parties are only concerned with “supporting a corrupt system that protects their own politics interests.” He is running for office because he believes that “regular people, not career politicians” are the best hope to get the economy moving again. Unlike all those corrupt career politicians, Erich Miller wants to lower taxes, and is opposed to the Obama healthcare reform legislation.

Background and History: Miller has been married for 27 years and has two children. He is a passionate touring musician, and is actively involved with the private schools to which he sends his children.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Miller holds several contradictory positions about economic issues. As a Libertarian, he opposes economic regulation and labor unions. Yet, as an active member of the Professional Musicians Union, Local 47, he has benefited from the efforts of organized labor. He is an advocate of the free enterprise system, and believes that government should not determine economic winners and losers. Yet, he believes that government should be a “referee that establishes a fair opportunity for all Americans to live out their version of the American dream.”

Health Care: Miller is similarly confused about health care policy. He supports “the elimination of the existing employer-based system” of health insurance coverage, and proposes a “private market system with medical insurance that remains with people regardless of their employment situation.” This seems to mean that he wants businesses prohibited from providing health insurance to their employees, forcing individuals to purchase their own health coverage, while at the same time prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance to anyone.

Fun Facts: Although we have not been able to discover which instruments he plays, Miller is trying to follow in the footsteps of other famous musicians turned politicos. The list includes: former U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (he played the fiddle) and U.S. Senator and 2004 presidential election runner-up John Kerry (during prep school days he had a band called The Electras, he played the bass - he could have been the first bassist president. Why the Republicans didn't base their smear campaign on this is beyond us).

Key Donors and Endorsements: According to Open Secrets, Miller has raised $3,720.

Sources: Miller for Congress; Congress.org; Rate Your Music
 

Rep. Henry Waxman

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: One of the liberal lions of the House, Rep. Waxman is widely respected for his legislative achievements in health and environmental policy. Over his three decades in Congress, he has fought for universal health insurance, comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid coverage, tobacco regulation, AIDS research and treatment, clear air and water quality standards, pesticide regulations, nursing home quality standards, women's health research and reproductive rights, affordable prescription drugs, and community rights to know about pollution levels. From 1979 to 1994, he chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. In January 2009, Rep. Waxman became the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Background and History: Raised a nice Jewish boy from Los Angeles, Waxman earned a B.A. and J.D. from UCLA, in 1961 and 1964 respectively. Before his life in public office, Waxman was a practicing attorney from 1965-1968. In 1969, he was elected to the California State Assembly and served 3 terms. Waxman was first elected to Congress in 1974 and is currently serving his 18th term.

Civil Rights: Waxman’s stellar civil rights record is reflected in his perfect ratings from the Human Rights Campaign and NAACP, and an 87% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. He voted against defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, voted to extend domestic partnership benefits to federal employees, and opposed California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

Waxman is a progressive on issues of immigration and undocumented persons. He opposed building a fence along the Mexican border, and supports increasing the amount of immigrant visas for skilled workers. He supports a comprehensive apporach to immigration reform that would “establish a path to lawful residence for those undocumented immigrants who demonstrate that they’ve made contributions to the U.S., undergo background checks, pay fines, meet English and civics requirements, and pay all taxes.”
 
Waxman is a passionate supporter of gun control, supporting legislation that would close the gun show loophole, create a national background check system, and reauthorize the assault weapons ban.
 
Economic Responsibility / Justice: Like most Democrats, Waxman is pro-union, receiving an 85% rating from the AFL-CIO. Waxman has voted to extend unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks and votes consistently to increase the minimum wage.

Environmental Responsibility: Since entering Congress, environmental policy has been Waxman’s cornerstone issue. In January 2009, Rep. Waxman became the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Last year, along with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), he wrote H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which, if not for the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, would have been the most comprehensive clean energy bill in history. Waxman is rated 80% by the League of Conservation Voters.

Health Care: Henry Waxman has been a lifelong supporter of healthcare for all, and counts the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program as one of his signature legislative achievements. Waxman’s stance is that we should “make healthcare a right, not a privilege.”

Education: Rated 91% by the National Education Association, Waxman is a supporter of reducing class sizes, voted to support $84 million in grants for Black & Hispanic colleges, and $40 billion for green public schools. He has stated his support of Head Start, to prepare children for school. In addition, he is a member of the Pell Grant Caucus and supports increasing financial aid funding to expand access to higher education for middle- and low-income students.

Reproductive Freedom: Pro-choice. Consistently rated 100% by NARAL, Waxman has co-sponsored legislation to expand contraceptive services for low-income women. Waxman signed the “Prevention First Act” – which focuses on preventing pregnancy, plus emergency contraception.

International Issues: Waxman voted to authorize military force in Iraq (2002) and to redeploy troops out of Iraq (2007). He voted to investigate Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (2008). In April 2009, Waxman voiced his support of sanctions on Iran to end their nuclear program. He was rated 100% by The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, indicating a “Pro-Peace” record.

Key Donors and Endorsements: TV/Movies/Music, Health Professionals, Hospitals/Nursing Homes, Health Services/HMOs

Sources: U.S. House; National Journal; On the Issues; Open Secrets
 

Chuck Wilkerson

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: Chuck Wilkerson has several reasons for seeking elected office, among them “love,” “camaraderie,” and a sense of personal fulfillment. “It finally dawned on me that I would be missing the opportunity of a lifetime not to attempt a run to unseat” Henry Waxman. Oh, and lest we think this run is all about Chuck, he briefly cites his policy disagreements with Waxman as a rationale: “because of Mr. Waxman’s positions on a number of key pieces of recent congressional legislation, I would not have chosen to run against any other candidate.” This either means that Mr. Wilkerson was planning to run in several different races at the same time, or that he freely chose a Don Quixote-like challenge against one of the safest and most respected members of Congress just for kicks.

Background and History: Chuck served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years, including time in Korea during 1952. He has degrees in electrical engineering, which he put to use as a “systems and payload development engineer … on classified programs” for the Defense Department. In plain English that means he designed weapons. He also lists himself as an “outspoken advocate” of conservative policies “via ‘letters to the editor’ … and email.” Last but not least, Chuck is a “student of and lecturer on global warming science and politics.”

Civil Rights: Under the “Illegal Immigration” tab of his campaign website, Chuck Wilkerson laments that “English no longer appears to be the official language of the United States, as everything from public safety notices to even voter ballots are now printed, through government sponsorship, en Español.” Chuck believes that, “Americans have had it. Enough!”

His three step plan for immigration reform is, “a robust border security system, a viable guest worker program, and a path to citizenship which is fair to all and which will create citizens who assimilate into our Constitutional culture and communicate in English at all levels – as did those who came before them.”

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Though the candidate does not put forth his stance on economic responsibility, he does state his opposition to, "A Welfare State – designed to promote citizen dependency on government" and advocates for "Limited Assistance – and only to the truly needy." This roughly translates to privatizing Social Security and cutting Medicaid, but keep your darn dirty hands off my Medicare!

Environmental Responsibility: A stanch global warming denier, Wilkerson believes that human activity causing climate change is a “hoax,” and states that human activity has no effect “zip, zilch, zero, nada” on global temperatures. If elected, Wilkerson promises to “do everything in my power to put this hoax to rest and return this country to the energy-driven prosperity which it is so capable of achieving.” Of course, Mr. Wilkerson is a staunch, if ill-informed, opponent of the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation.

Health Care: Wilkerson calls the recently passed healthcare reform legislation an “Obamanation,” and questions its constitutionality. If elected, he would choose to “scrap” the bill and start fresh with standard Republican boilerplate: “competition across state lines,” “tort reform,” and “requiring individuals to have a non-zero stake in their health care.” Apparently Wilkerson lives in a world where Oprah says, “you get free health care! You get free health care! You get free health care!”

Education: Wilkerson is in favor of educating “youngsters” in math, English, the physical sciences, and “factual history.” Unfortunately, those darn teachers unions keep working to prevent said youngsters from learning those subjects. The solution is to encourage a “competitive environment for truth-telling. Competition is good in virtually all human activity.”

International Issues: Wilkerson believes that the focus of Obama Administration foreign policy has been an “Apology Tour to the “Muslim World” and also capitulating to Hugo Chavez. Unlike the “commies” in the Administration, Wilkerson would do things differently.

Fun Facts: Chuck Wilkerson is a “birther” who questions whether President Obama was born in the United States, and also believes that President Obama is a Muslim. He lays out his argument for these insane beliefs in a recently submitted a “letter to the editor” of the Jewish Journal.

Key Donors and Endorsements: Newt Gingrich, Congressman Dan [sic] Rohrabacher, and actor, John (sic) Voight

Sources: Chuck Wilkerson; Vote Smart; FEC


U.S. House of Representatives: 31st District

Xavier Becerra

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: Representative Becerra’s platform revolves around the economy, the environment, health care, and social security. His core commitment is to promote issues that affect the industries that are important to the Southern California economy, including health care, high technology, and entertainment.

Background and History: Xavier Beccera comes from a working class background, born to an American father and Mexican mother, and was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He graduated from Stanford University, and obtained his law degree from Standford Law. He is married, and has three daughters. Becerra was first elected to Congress in 1992, and has become an important voice in the House Democratic Leadership, as well as the first Latino to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Civil Rights: Becerra is a strong supporter of rights and protection from discrimination for gays and lesbians, rated 100% by the Human Rights Campaign. He is also a strong supporter of the DREAM act, which would provide comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Becerra is a strong supporter of organized labor, and has stood with President Obama on the economic stimulus legislation, including important investments in green technology jobs, and helping to make public schools energy efficient.

Environmental Responsibility: Becerra has been a champion of solar industry, especially promoting the efforts of the alternative fuel industry in Southern California. He has voted numerous times for tax credits and incentives designed to promote energy conservation and renewal energy production.

Health Care: Becerra’s voting record was rated 100% by The American Public Health Association, indicating a strong pro-public health record. His record includes votes in favor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Education: Rated 100% by the National Education Association (NEA), indicating pro-public education votes.

Reproductive Freedom?: NARAL Pro-Choice America rated Becerra 100% for his pro-choice voting record.

International Issues: Rated 100% by SANE, a pro-peace/anti nuclear war organization, indicating a pro-peace voting record. Becerra is a Member of the Out-of-Iraq Congressional Caucus. He has voted to support recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Fun Facts: Becerra sponsors a student art competition, and the winner’s art is showcased in Becerra’s Capitol Hill office plus Dodger Stadium.

Key Donors and Endorsements: California League of Conservation Voters, California Labor Federation, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, Stonewall Young Democrats, Sierra Club.

Other: Becerra was rated +25 by NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's), indicating a pro-drug-reform stance. (That’s on a scale of 10 – 30)

Sources: SCPR; Who Runs Gov; U.S. House; On the Issues


Stephen Smith

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: Frustrated following the 2008 election, Stephen Smith and his wife started a group to discuss political issues, study the Constitution and other articles written by the Founding Fathers. Smith’s group grew from five people to fifty in three months. When Smith invited Jane Barnett, Chairman of the Republican Party for Los Angeles County to speak at one of their group events, she urged him to run for Congress.
 
Smith believes in a government that protects freedom and liberty. He does not believe in redistributive change or spreading of wealth, but instead in creating opportunity.

Background and History: Smith says he is “not a lawyer, not a politician, not a corporate lackey, not a member of the elite, I am you.” We can also assume he is not a witch. Smith was born and raised in North Hollywood and attended UCLA. He started his career working in a paint factory for furniture production, and later at Radio Shack locations all over Los Angeles, managing retail stores and computer centers. He is a "well read news junkie (2 newspapers a day)."

Civil Rights: Smith believes that boarder fences and monitoring will decrease crime and protect the people. He is a strong supporter of the Arizona anti-immigration law.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Smith believes that the federal government should “regulate interstate commerce (not run or own G.M.) and promote the general welfare.” As an example of promoting the general welfare, Mr. Smith advocates “the idea of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him fish for the rest of his life.” To which, one might reply, “so long, and thanks for all the fish.”

If Mr. Smith goes to Washington, he will support a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment, and warns his fellow citizens that there is no such thing as a free lunch. He wants lower taxes, especially Capital Gains tax cuts, which he believes will stimulate investment and job growth, contrary to the last 10 years.

Environmental Responsibility: Smith believes in federal subsidies for building more electrical generation plants, including nuclear, solar, and “scrubbed coal.” He wants to institute a federal energy surchase on energy consumers in order to pay for these subsidies. He apparently doesn’t realize that this means a new federal energy tax. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have found a Republican candidate in favor of raising new taxes!

Health Care: Smith would like to cancel Medicare and Medicaid and provide vouchers that can be used to purchase private insurance for those that cannot afford their own health care. Smith would also like to pass legislation regarding pre-existing conditions, tort reform and cross state line sales on health care, believing that this will reduce fraud in the industry.

Education: Smith believes in creating vouchers, to be spent at schools that parents choose for their children – to encourage competition in education and greater involvement from families.

Fun Facts: On his website, Smitgh has a "campaign video" in which he sings (yes sings) about his qualifications to be a Congressman. It features Victoria Jackson (occassionally funny former Saturday Night Live castmember). It is four minutes long, and has been viewed 277 times.

Key Donors and Endorsements: The California Republican Assembly, The Hollywood Congress of Republicans, The Republican Party of Los Angeles County, California Republican Assemblyman Chuck DeVore

Sources: Candidate site
 

U.S. House of Representatives: 32nd District

Judy Chu (incumbent)

Political Party: Democratic

Candidate Platform: Congresswoman Chu highlights the following issues as most important: unemployment, environment, health care, education, and transportation.

Background and History: Judy Chu was elected to represent the 32nd Congressional District in 2008. Prior to joining the House, she was on the California State Board of Equalization for three years after five years in the State Assembly. She served three terms as Mayor of Monterey Park and also served on the City Council and school board. She has taught Psychology at East LA Community College for 13 years.

Civil Rights: Dr. Chu opposed the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, and applauded the decision of the federal district court that declared the proposition unconstitutional. She voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Congresswoman Chu voted for the extension of unemployment benefits, increased stimulus spending, a shareholder vote on executive compensation, and for the Dodd-Frank Act. She also expressed her support of the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, suggesting a pro-consumer stance.

Environmental Responsibility: Congresswoman Chu received a 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. Although she has not had a chance to cast a vote on many environmental issues, she did vote against ending the moratorium on deepwater drilling rigs.

Health Care: Chu voted for the Obama Administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Education: New to the House, she hasn't participated in many votes. She did vote for a bill that appropriates money to the States for teacher employment purposes, and also voted in favor of the Student Loan Reform Act, which lowered interest rates for student loans and increased federal Pell Grant funding.

Reproductive Freedom?: Chu voted against the amendments to the health care bills that would have prohibited federally funded abortion services.

Fun Facts: She is the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress.

Key Donors and Endorsements: California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, California League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, National Education Association, Planned Parenthood

Sources: Los Angeles Times; Smart Voter; Vote Smart; On the Issues; Judy Chu


Edward "Ed" Schmerling

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: Cut Spending, Reduce Taxes, Protect Our Borders. Wants to put "serious minded, fiscally sound individuals in charge of this country. Like our parents worked to secure our future, we must work to secure our children’s." How's he plan on getting us there? "Cutting spending, reducing the tax burden on our citizens and our businesses, opposing regulation and government intervention that is destroying our economy and securing our borders to protect our citizens."

Background and History: Not a lot out there on "Ed". We know that he's a Technology Consultant/Programmer and we found these tags for him on a pretty random website called ourcampaigns.com: "Conservative - Libertarian - Jobs/Industrial Growth - Pro- gun - Pro-Life - Pro-Smaller Government - Married - Christian".

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Most of the viewpoints that Ed has to share with us are economic in nature. He is not at all down with free trade agreements, stating that they cost American jobs. We can deduce that he had a really good year in '07, cuz he wants to return federal spending to 2007 (or earlier) levels and establish a clear constitutional mandate to require the reduction of the national debt. He thinks that Americans are super-overtaxed and wants to keep the Bush Tax Cuts (their effect on the national debt is not an issue for him). He definitely does not support the TARP "bailouts" and believes that "only the private sector can create jobs or stimulate the economy", FDR be damned. And, finally, on his website, he offers us "three areas that should be addressed" with regards to Congressional Oversight: 1) Complete auditing of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and 2) Complete auditing of the Federal Reserve Bank. Wait, that's only two. Hmmm. Well, he probably didn't major in math, so we'll forgive him.

Environmental Responsibility: Opposes government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, believe that that sort of regulation is not actually about the environment, it's actually the Obama admin's "anti business big government agenda". In his words, "Taxing American business under the guise of protecting the environment will drive our businesses out of the energy industry and allow foreign less environmentally conscience companies to create the energy required by all Americans." No other thoughts from Ed about environmental responsibility.

Health Care: Believes that repealing the Obama Health Care Bill is "vital", cuz, according to him, it's not actually about Health Care, it's only about creating a larger govt. No alternative plans offered.

International Issues: Ed believes that "defending the sovereignty of the United States against the current invasion of the illegal immigration should be the highest priority of the Federal Government." As for the "War on Terror": Ed wants us to try and use more of a military response, as well as a law enforcement response.

Fun Facts: Well, this probably isn't fun for him, but according to Open Secrets, Ed’s campaign has only raised zero dollars.

Key Donors and Endorsements: On his website, four endorsements are listed: Kevin McGary, Author; Teresa Hernandez, South El Monte Business owner; John McCready, South El Monte; and Dave Butler, West Covina Chemist.

Sources: Candidate website; Our Campaigns


U.S. House of Representatives: 33rd District

James L. Andion

Political Party: Republican

Candidate Platform: James Andion bases his platform on the foundational “time-tested truths” of the United States. He supports balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, national security and energy independence. In addition, he wants to improve education and reduce crime rates.

Background and History: Andion received his degree in Business Administration degree from Michigan State University, and is practicing attorney with a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He is fluent in Spanish and has over 20 years experience working in the Hispanic, Korean, and other Asian communities. He has been a Congressional candidate once before in 2006 for the 39th Congressional District. He volunteered his attorney skills for President Bush's election campaigns in 2000 and 2004 as well as Governor Schwarzenegger's campaigns.

Economic Responsibility / Justice: Andion self-identifies as a Reagan conservative and is focused on jump starting the economy and job growth by cutting government spending and balancing the federal budget. He argues for pay as you go spending to avoid budget deficits and debt to foreign countries like China. He apparently is unaware that Ronald Reagan raised taxes at least six times, after his initial budgets vastl

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