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Lieu Wins Democratic Party Endorsement in 33rd Congressional District


State Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance has won the Democratic Party endorsement in his race for Congress, a seal-of-approval that could give him a boost in June's primary election.

In the quest to succeed Democratic veteran Henry Waxman in Congress, Lieu earned the nod over former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel and former Bill Clinton administration official and radio host Matt Miller. Lieu was the choice of Democratic activists within the district who met during the weekend at the California Democrats State Convention.

"This is a huge deal," Lieu said. "It shows that I have the backing of the Democratic Party and this is in a congressional district that is heavily Democratic. It also shows that I have the support of the grass-roots Democrats."

How much the endorsement affects the race remains to be seen. Lieu immediately will be able to start advertising that he has the party endorsement. The party could also spend money on his behalf, but that is a decision that will be made later, a Democratic Party spokesman said.

"Campaigns and candidates have fought fiercely for the party's endorsement," party spokesman Tenoch Flores said. "The party's endorsement is something that matters to rank-and-file Democrats throughout California."

Sean Clegg, a Greuel strategist, said the campaign fought for the endorsement but will be fine without it. He said that Greuel already has strong name identification among Democrats because of her 2013 run for Los Angeles mayor. Clegg said an internal campaign poll conducted in February among likely voters put Greuel up by 13 points with Democrats against Lieu. Clegg also noted that Greuel has been endorsed by two prominent Democrats holding statewide offices - Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

"The process is what it is," Clegg said. "It is a really Sacramento-centric caucus process. We're going to focus on where we have a big advantage, which is with Democrats living in the district."

A spokesman for Miller, probably the least known among the three Democrats, declined to comment.

A fourth candidate, Marianne Williamson, is an independent and was not eligible for the endorsement. In interviews, however, Williamson has called herself a progressive and said she shares many positions with the Democratic candidates.

The only Republican mounting a serious campaign is Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr.

The top two candidates, regardless of party, in the June 3 primary will move on to the general election on Nov. 4.

In the general election, the Democratic Party endorsement might be less helpful to Lieu, said Jack Pitney, professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College. That's because while a Democrat is favored to win the 33rd Congressional District race, only about 44 percent of the district's voters are registered Democrats, according to the Secretary of State's Office. About 28 percent of voters are Republicans, while about 22 percent decline to state a party.

The Republican and independent votes will be important in November, Pitney said. And those voters probably won't be swayed by the Democratic Party endorsement.

"The 33rd District is not as heavily Democratic as many others in the Los Angeles area," Pitney said in an email. "Greuel could build a coalition of Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats."

In another competitive area race, Democrats declined to endorse a favorite in the campaign to succeed Lieu in the 26th state Senate District. Democrats running in that district include Santa Monica school board member Ben Allen, women's rights activist Sandra Fluke, former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth.


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