In her 24-year career in the House of Representatives, Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles County has never faced a challenger as tough as John Wood Jr., the young Republican profiled this week by National Review Online. Wood came within a
As Wood noted in that profile, the bar is pretty low. In her previous 12 elections, including her 1990 election and all subsequent reelections, Waters has averaged 81.39 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, Wood got 22,478 votes, totaling 29.6 percent and knocking Waters’s take down to 70.4 percent. He is the first challenger to come within a fraction of a point of taking Waters’s vote below 70 percent. He did so as a Republican in a state of such breathtaking political diversity that is increasingly running Democrat-vs.-Democrat general elections.
Tuesday’s vote drew 75,911 District 43 voters out to the polls. That’s not the lowest turnout in Waters history but it is on the low end (though it is difficult to draw conclusions because she has represented three different gerrymanderings over the years). The district has 348,074 registered voters, and 54,299 of those are Republicans.
There was no defeating Waters, but Wood ran the strongest challenge she has faced at least since ascending to Congress. Imagine what he could have done with more than $10,000.