During the kick off of the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, the HIV Medicine Association along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, singer Elton John and NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci honored California Rep. Henry Waxman for his long fight against HIV and his tireless efforts championing health care reforms and equality for all. He has also been one of the most stalwart defenders of women’s reproductive rights, citing the need for policies based on science instead of religion.
Waxman, who has represented the 30th Congressional District (that includes West Hollywood) for what seems like forever, has been redistricted into the new 33rd CD, which has some overlap in Beverly Hills and the Westside but now stretches south to include the South Bay Beach cities. His challenger is Bill Bloomfield, a former Republican who is a founder of the anti-partisan group No Labels. Bloomfield is a liberal/moderate on social issues and has enough money to self-fund to the tune already of at least $7 million to unseat Waxman.
Waxman says that No Labels has “a list of process reforms, some of which are pretty good,” designed to breaking down the partisan gridlock. But Waxman doesn’t think the process reform ideas themselves are particularly partisan.
Waxman is also not convinced that Bloomfield re-registering as an independent meant that he really left the Republican Party behind. He says Bloomfield has spent $2 million on Republican candidates, issues and causes since he decided to switch out of the GOP. Even after the switch, Waxman says, Bloomfield “continued to give the maximum amount he could” to Mitt Romney for President. Additionally, Waxman said:
He said he switched because he resented [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s statement that his one goal was to stop President Obama. That was the last straw for him. But then he turned around and gave Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republican Committee thousands and thousands of dollars so Mitch McConnell could be the Majority Leader. And then he gave John Boehner, the Speaker and the leader in the House, thousands of dollars, as well. So he said he wasn’t a Republican but he gave to the Republicans. He says he’s independent but he has been a Republican all his life.
In an interview with me, Bloomfield explained that he contributed to Romney’s presidential campaign before the primaries when he thought Romney was the moderate governor of Massachusetts and switched to Gov. Jon Huntsman when Romneyy moved to the far right. He also said that the checks to Boehner and McConnell were for events he wanted to attend prior to his quitting the GOP – and during the McConnell event, he “chewed him out.”
By contrast, Waxman said:
I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am. I’m a proud Democrat. I’ll work across the aisle with Republicans. I want to get things done that will help millions of Americans and I have a record of accomplishments that are now law because of the work that I did on a bi-partisan basis – including the Ryan White CARE Act, the tobacco regulation at FDA , the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water law and the regulations on pesticides in foods to the competition of generic drugs to lower prices from the high cost brand drugs. And the breast cervical screening law – these are a few of the bills – others as well – that I authored and got passed into law.
Every bill that I authored and finally got into law – and it sometimes took a decade or more to pass some of these ideas – required Republican support or I had Republican support for them. The only legislation that I was an author of that passed without any Republican votes was the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare because Republicans refused to participate in the effort to try to bring health to all Americans.
Now there are specific issues with which we [he and Bloomfield] disagree that I think are important to the LGBT community. I have a record on LGBT issues for decades. I was one of a handful of people who sponsored the bill [the Civil Rights Amendment of 1975] to end discrimination based on sexual orientation – extending the civil rights laws [the first version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA].
In California when I was in the legislature, I voted to make legal sex between consenting adults. [Then-Assemblymember] Willie Brown authored it and I was a sponsor of it and I voted for it. [The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1975]. ….
[Bloomfield] claims some very progressive positions in his campaign – but I’ve never seen him doing anything on any of those issues.
Waxman, meanwhile, serves as a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, has numerous pages on his official website noting the specific LGBT-related legislation and has 10 pages dedicated to work he’s done fighting HIV/AIDS. One of the people who speaks about Waxman in this tribute video – Tim Westmoreland – helped Waxman set up the first-ever congressional hearing on HIV/AIDS in 1982 – held at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center on Highland Ave. in Hollywood. Waxman also became the lead author of the critically important Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990, which still provides critical funding to low-income people with HIV/AIDS in America.