CA-36: Harman Primary Gets Going

So I’m quoted in this Politico article about potential primary challenges to Jane Harman.  I’ve said clearly that she’ll either face a primary or drop out, and now multiple challengers, including 2006 opponent Marcy Winograd, have stepped up.  One thing that people don’t totally remember about that 2006 challenge is that Marcy got in the race in February for a June primary.  She ended up raising and spending about $380,000, but she did not have time for a national fundraising base or a netroots strategy.  She basically just went ahead and ran, and she got 38% of the vote.  Starting the primary a year out this time will simply yield better results.

The other part, which Alex Eisenstadt acknowledges, is that Harman was a target long before the recent revelation of wiretapped conservations between her and suspected Israeli agents offering vague quid pro quo deals on getting some AIPAC members out of legal trouble.

It’s true that Harman holds a firm grip on her comfortably Democratic district, having won 69 percent in the 2008 general election.

Still, her left flank remains exposed in large part because of her hawkish, pro-military reputation. After Sept. 11, 2001, Harman was an early advocate for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, and she threw her support behind the American-led invasion of Iraq. She went so far as to criticize the FBI and the CIA for moving too slowly to respond to terrorist threats.

Those stances continue to rankle local progressives, and the recent controversy has only revived the frustrations that seemed to crest in 2006 with Winograd’s challenge. Last week, Winograd organized a protest outside Harman’s district headquarters, with activists calling on the California Democrat to resign. The environmental organization Greenpeace is coordinating a mailing in the district pressuring Harman, who has a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, on energy issues.

David Dayen, a California activist who writes for the liberal blog Calitics, said he expects progressive organizations to ramp up their efforts against Harman in the weeks ahead.

“I don’t get the sense that in May, the year before this primary is happening, there is going to be a lot of clamoring over Harman, but I do think you’re starting to see progressive groups get involved,” said Dayen.

I reject the theory later in the piece that CA-36 is a moderate district.  The PVI is D+12, and the formerly conservative areas have moderated their views.  Torrance, the supposed “Orange County of LA County,” just elected two Democrats to its City Council.  What’s more, Harman votes substantially to the right of the district and has for years.

Winograd will be holding a campaign kickoff on Monday at the Venice Pier around 4:00pm, so she’s obviously serious about making this run again.  And she’ll be taking questions in a liveblog session at Firedoglake today at 11am.  John Amato of Crooks and Liars fame may also make a run at this seat.

…Transcript of the FDL session here.

12 thoughts on “CA-36: Harman Primary Gets Going”

  1. I even read FDL yesterday and didn’t realize that she’d be there today.  I would have enjoyed participating. Oh well, I’ll read the transcript.  Thanks for the update David

  2. Looks like you will have at least one more chance to live-blog with Marcy at FireDogLake. David, any chance of doing that here at Calitics?

    Marcy, thanks for spending the time with us- and thanks for the AWESOME answers to our questions. There should be a Marcy Winograd is every congressional district in America and then we’d have a real democracy. I’ll be looking forward to having you back on as the campaign kicks into high gear and I’ll be looking forward to your comments on all the issues before Congress between now and then. Have a great announcement ceremony on Monday!

  3. Winograd lives in Pacific Palisades. Nothing illegal about that at all, but it would be nice to have some challenging candidates who actually lived in the district. What about Ted Lieu or Janice Hahn? Any chance they’d primary Harman?

  4. Elected to the seat in 1992 when Bill Clinton received just 41% of the vote against Bush & Perot, so caled progressives fail to acknowledge or accept the fact this seat would still be in the hands of the GOP if not for Jane Harman.

    When Jane Harman challenged for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998 she left the seat in the hands of Janice Hahn to hold.

    She was easily defeated.

    It was Jane Harman who defeated one-term Congressman Steve Kuykendall and has held the seat in 2002, 04, 06 and 08.

    Harman has been a pragmatic and responsible Democrat her entire career. The former legislative director for US Senator John Tunney, Harman also served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    In 1996 she held off Republican Susan Brooks 52-44 and has made inrroads in this district like no other because of her pro-business and pro-growth agenda that embraces education, public safety and national security.

    It was Harman in 92 who spent an incredible sum of $2.3 million to win the open seat from Joan Milke Flores and her voting record reflected the moderate views of the district.

    Since 2003 liberals have hounded Harman despite her expertise in national security and defense issues for the ranting of Marcy Winograd, an ambitious liberal who would be a back bencher with all bark and no bite!

    The White House in all liklihood will back Harman and deservedly so. This challenge backs any rationale other than the personal ambition of someone who wants to be in congress and can’t wait any longer for Henry Waxman to retire.

    Is Harman remembered for holding the seat in 1994 by just 812 votes? Does she get any credit for carrying the district with 52% of the vote in 96 when Clinton received just 47%?

    Blind liberal ambition based on the illegal disclosure of tapes is the basis for this myopic challenge. Harman has helped Democrats all over the state and deserves so much more than this kind of attack from the left just determined to end her career no matter the consequences.

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