Businessweek: Marianne Williamson, California’s New Age Contender for Congress

By Karl Taro Greenfeld

In the sanctuary above an herbal tonic bar, before a seated Buddha and a pair of mandalas, 48 volunteers for congressional candidate Marianne Williamson close their eyes and meditate as Annelise Balfour, the manager and head facilitator of the Source Spiritual Center, intones a welcome prayer. “Marianne, she’s … Whoa! She’s the s-‍-‍-. I’m so grateful for her. We thank you, God, for more gratitude, more adventure, more transformation. Now I ask all of you, drop your story of the past. Only now do you have the power to transform your world. Visualize gardens growing and dolphins swimming and any dream you care to dream of a government that responds to its people.” When she finishes, a few of those gathered, echoing how Williamson ends her own talks, add, “And so it is.”

Williamson, 61, is the best-selling author of 13 books on spirituality and a renowned New Age guru, although she hates that term. She wants to channel some of her 220,000 Twitter (TWTR) followers and 456,000 Facebook (FB) likes—and millions of readers—into a constituency that will vote for her. She’s out to replace Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, who’s retiring after 20 terms, in California’s 33rd U.S. congressional district. Encompassing Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice, the 33rd then curves around to include the equally tony enclaves of Hermosa Beach and the Palos Verdes peninsula. The district has the highest per capita income, $60,000 per year, and the highest median home value, $911,000, of any district in the country. It’s rich, white, and liberal; Barack Obama carried more than 60 percent of the vote in both his races, and the district gave millions to his campaign. The 33rd is home to donors such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban and a host of other liberal billionaires. Whoever controls the 33rd becomes a power broker: Almost every Democratic candidate with national aspirations stops in to tap the ATM.

To win Waxman’s seat, Williamson must first make it into this fall’s general election; to qualify for that, under the state’s open electoral system, she must finish first or second in a June 3 primary. Running as an independent, Williamson benefits from a fragmented field of 17 announced candidates with no clear front-runner. High-profile establishment Democrats in the race include State Senator Ted Lieu and former Los Angeles City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, both of whom will attempt to appeal to the 33rd’s traditional Democratic base of former Waxman supporters. There is no similarly positioned Republican candidate, though in 2012, businessman Bill Bloomfield, an independent, spent $7 million, much of it his own money, in an unsuccessful attempt to take Waxman’s seat. If any district in America might embrace Williamson, it’s the 33rd.

She has only recently moved into the district herself but was always a good fit among wealthy Westsiders. Driving around in a white Toyota Prius, she’s proven herself a formidable fundraiser, tapping into her unique base, a combination of Hollywood insiders and spiritual seekers, to raise more than $1 million to date. At a recent event, Steven Tyler and Chaka Khan performed at a $5,200-per-person private concert at the Malibu estate of True Religion Apparel co-founder Kym Gold. The average day on the hustings will find Williamson driving from Beverly Hills to Hermosa Beach, giving her impassioned stump speech, an eloquent refresher on U.S. history that attempts to situate her candidacy in the context of the abolitionist, suffragette, and civil rights movements before broaching three central issues: getting money out of politics, ending mass incarceration, and forcing food companies to state on labels whether their products include ingredients from genetically modified organisms.

Political movements have often arisen in California, from Ronald Reagan’s staunch conservatism and Howard Jarvis’s tax-cut revolution to the Black Panther Party, and it could be that Williamson represents the start of a sort of anti-GMO Tea Party of the Left. Former Ohio Representative and frequent presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has heralded her as a new type of politician, one who is “truly outside the system.” Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura has endorsed her campaign and her call to end “a legalized system of corruption and bribery.” Those endorsements may not confirm a movement, but her popularity appears symptomatic of a deep dissatisfaction among wealthy Los Angelenos and millennials who are disappointed with Obama’s centrist compromises. Williamson, a frequent speaker at Occupy Wall Street rallies, appeals to the thousands of people who protested the banks but have little to show for it. And while persuading some of the wealthiest people in the U.S. to accept tighter financial regulations and higher taxes might seem like a tough sell, in California’s 33rd she’s just as likely to lose by alienating the vegan vote. Indeed, Williamson hesitates a long time before admitting that she occasionally enjoys a steak. “That’s the most dangerous question you’ve asked me,” she says. “And since the campaign began, I’ve been craving red meat.”

Read the full article here.

Thanks to Ballot Access News for the link.

21 thoughts on “Businessweek: Marianne Williamson, California’s New Age Contender for Congress

  1. paulie

    CLC your comments are not appropriate and if they were ever funny they certainly are not now. Please cease and desist.

  2. paulie

    I would hope that candidates would consider this a place they would consider participating rather than a place where they would be stalked or sexually harassed.

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    I think there’s a very good possiblity I will be able to interview Ms. Williamson. I would hate to have her check out IPR, read CLC’s comments, and decide that we are not a legitimate news source. Please stop your comments, CLC, which do not contribute anything besides annoyance. I don’t understand why you changed. You used to contribute here, and for some reason you’ve chosen not to do that anymore.

  4. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Too many libertarians and independents project their political ideals onto Williamson, simply because she’s an attractive, charismatic woman.

    It’s the Reagan/Perot/Obama effect all over again. People WANT to believe. So when a charismatic “outsider” comes along, with some pithy sound bites that are open to wider interpretation, people begin to see what they want to see.

    REALITY CHECK: I’ve read interviews with Williamson in which she heaps praise on Henry Waxman, lauding him for his many achievements.

    In which case, Williamson can’t be too far outside the mainstream. She’d likely be far more Beltway Establishment in her policies that people want to imagine. A bit different in style or rhetoric, but hardly revolutionary.

  5. paulie

    I never thought she is libertarian, nor did I see anyone make any such claims on any posts here as far as I can recall. Maybe CLC, but I would not count that.

  6. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    It’s not that libertarians claim she IS a libertarian. Rather, it’s that many libertarians seem enthusiastic about her. As if they expect her policies to be significantly libertarian, or at least, anti-establishment.

    Progressives and independents too seem to think that she’s somehow a breath of fresh air, someone who will shake things up, and be significantly different than Waxman.

    It’s not that anyone has any clear ideas about Williamson. Rather, there seems to be a lot of “feel good” vibes about her candidacy. A vague sense that she’s somehow significantly different from current Demopublicans.

  7. paulie

    The “O”pen thread should concern her more than comments that appear to be heavy sexual innuendo from an anonymous and possibly deranged troll lurking in the dark alleys of IPR and breathing heavily?

  8. paulie

    Your inappropriate comments about Marianne Williamson and others are a long way from just admiring beauty, and you are the one obsessed with Obama’s anus. As for lakes of feces that is entirely appropriate for the person it was directed at.

  9. paulie

    CLC, you are getting to be a real nuisance. You can play dumb all you want but I know that you know what you are doing. Please stop it now, or further steps may become necessary soon. I am asking politely for now but will recommend action if you keep up the games.

  10. Concerned Libertarian Citizen

    Could you please provide examples because I don’t believe I’ve gone too far? Maybe I have but I say many things. It is nit my intent to sexually harass anyone. I want to be humorous and to express my view on Marianne’s beauty.

  11. paulie

    Your first non-video comment in this thread is a good example, but there have been many others. I am not going to explain things that do not need to be explained. Either you shape up or I’ll recommend to Warren that you ship out. He is usually pretty good about taking such recommendations. And I am convinced you are smart enough to know when you are being inappropriate regardless of if you pretend otherwise.

  12. Pingback: Marianne Williamson Announces She Will Not Run as a Third Party or Independent Presidential Candidate | Independent Political Report

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