Tag Archives: Janice Hahn

Laura Richardson Reprimanded by House Ethics Committee

Laura Richardson (D- CA)Faces steep battle to stay in Congress

by Brian Leubitz

If we had never seen Top-2 pass, Laura Richardson would be a lame duck right now.  Instead, after a 60-40 “shellacking” at the hands of Janice Hahn in a newly redistricted seat, she has another shot in the November election.  Not a good shot, mind you, but a shot.  But the odds are looking ever dimmer, especially after this bit of news:

Representative Laura Richardson, Democrat of California, has agreed to be reprimanded by the House and pay a $10,000 fine for compelling her Congressional staff members to work on her 2010 campaign.

The House Ethics Committee recommended the punishment in a biting report issued on Wednesday.(NY Times)

Now Richardson hasn’t exactly had a great record with ethics in the past, just check out her tag page here for a few snippets of her history. But an official reprimand will do no help in her November campaign.  

The actual incidents are basically what you would expect from this kind of charge. Richardson assigned her staff to make phone calls on her behalf, or scout her opponent, etc.  And then to compound things, she tried to cover her tracks. The official reports describes this:

In sum, Representative Richardson’s submission continues the approach she has taken in this matter from the outset: an utter absence of true remorse for her misuse of official resources and, equally as significant, for what she has put her staff through, as well as a near total deflection of responsibility for this matter.

From maintaining her property to dealing with foreclosures, Richardson has been something of a “distraction” for the California Democratic delegation. Janice Hahn, for whatever flaws she may have, makes a far better representative of and for the district.

One Day After Winning CA-36, CA Redistricting Commission “Visualizes” Janice Hahn Out Of District


The newest member of Congress could be among the most adversely affected by new political maps currently being considered by the state’s redistricting commission.

Democratic Congresswoman-elect Janice Hahn of San Pedro could find herself in a new district that runs along the coast from the South Bay to Malibu, and stretching inland to grab parts of West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Much of that district is currently represented by Rep. Henry Waxman. The other option for Hahn is a Long Beach district that has none of her South Bay political base and also includes two other Democratic incumbents — Reps. Linda Sanchez and Laura Richardson.

Democratic consultant Paul Mitchell, who has been actively monitoring the redistricting process, says Hahn could be “in serious trouble.”

“She’s losing the seat that she just won,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell says that under new working maps released by the commission this week, the number of Latino seats in Los Angeles is likely to increase, while one of the basin’s three African American congressional seats could disappear.

Here’s what happened: The California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission just released a third version of their “visioning” maps for Congressional and State Assembly Districts. And as indicated above, these new maps are radically different from anything we’ve seen before.

There are three different proposed versions of CA-36. Depending on which option you chose, our newly-elected Congresswoman Janice Hahn could end up sharing her district with Henry Waxman, or she could even end up outside the district. All of the options include everything from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes, while cutting the Beach Cities – Redondo, Manhattan, Hermosa and Torrance – in half just west of the 405 freeway.

Click here to see version One.

Click here to see version Two.

Click here to see version Three.

To see more detailed congressional maps, go to this link, type in your home address, then go to the “Select District” pull-down menu, and select “congress la opt1, opt2, or opt3”

The new Assembly districts in Southern California aren’t much better. My Assembly district, AD53, is now partially divided into three separate districts, with Venice as the nexus. Which means that Venice – 1 square mile wide – could potentially be represented by THREE different Assembly members.

To see the new Assembly map, Go to this link, type in your home address, then go to the “Select District” pull-down menu, and select “assembly la opt1”

So now what? The final district maps are slated to be released July 28, according to a press release, and adopted by the commission on Aug. 15. So you still have time to make your voice heard.

The Commission needs to hear from you. Send an email to [email protected] and let them know what you think.

Be sure to put down where you live so they know you’re a constituent.

CA-36 musical chairs: Furutani Announces for LA Council District 15

Yesterday’s victory by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in the special election for Congressional District 36 has set the musical chairs rolling once again, as Democratic Assemblymember Warren Furutani, who represents the 55th District, declared his intention to run for the impending vacancy. Via email release from Parke Skelton:

(LOS ANGELES) Quickly following Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s victory for Congress in the special election yesterday, Warren Furutani wasted no time in announcing his plans to run for City Council.

“I was born in San Pedro and have lived in the 15th Council District for almost 20 years,” said Furutani. “I’m an LA guy and I’m very excited at the opportunity to work closely with the community on important issues like job creation, gang prevention, education, transportation, air quality and improving the great neighborhoods of San Pedro, Watts, Wilmington, Harbor City and the Harbor Gateway.”

Furutani began his career in Los Angeles as a community organizer during the civil rights movement. He later worked as a counselor at one of the toughest continuation high schools for dropouts in Downtown LA to keep at-risk kids out of gangs and in school.

Per the release, Asm. Furutani currently represents approximately 30 percent of the turf that is Council District 15. If successful, Furutani would join fellow former Assemblymembers Paul Koretz (District 5) and Paul Krekorian (District 2) on the Los Angeles City Council. While going from the Assembly to a City Council would normally seem like a downgrade, Los Angeles is a distinct exception for several reasons, in no particular order: 1) the pay is substantially better; 2) City Hall is a much easier commute than Sacramento; 3) more authority over similar turf; and 4) members of the City Council are only term-limited out after three four-year terms without the threat of being redistricted out since the Council controls redistricting.

In Furutani’s case he would get nearly 14 years on the City Council should be be successful, since Janice Hahn’s unexpired term would not count against his term limit. Not a bad way to end a legislative career. As of yet, no dates have been set for a special election, as Janice Hahn has not formally resigned her Council seat.

Janice Hahn Cruises to a 9 Point Victory

It probably never should have been this close, but today, Janice Hahn is the Congresswoman-elect for CA-36:

Democrat Janice Hahn defeated Republican Craig Huey in a bitterly contested Southern California special election marked by stinging attacks from both sides.

Hahn finished with a healthy 54.56 percent of the vote to Huey’s 45.44 percent in Tuesday’s vote. The good news came early for Hahn’s camp soon after polls closed when the initial absentee returns showed the Los Angeles councilwoman with an 8-point advantage. Huey’s campaign needed a stronger showing in the early vote to offset the 18-point Democratic registration advantage in the beach town district.(Politico)

Despite pouring the better part of a million dollars into his campaign, Huey just wasn’t able to overcome the landscape of the district.  Until the redistricting commission says otherwise, this district will vote for Democrats, even in a special election without the draw of higher offices on the ballot.

California never really caught the Tea Party Fever, and doesn’t seem to be now either.

Janice Hahn’s Election Day

Before I get to the election, first our condolences out to the Hahn family as Ramona Hahn, mother of Janice and former Mayor Jim Hahn, passed away.

During the primary for CA-36, Janice Hahn did pretty much everything possible to ensure a top-2 match against Craig Huey rather than Debra Bowen.  She did all she could to lure Marcy Winograd into the race, and then ran an aggressive campaign focused primarily on Bowen.  Now that day is here, and she got a whole lot more fight than she wanted.

From sexist pole-dancer videos to plain ol’ right-wing nonsense, Huey has used his money to make a legitimate race.  And now today is the day.  Recent polls show Hahn leading by somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 points.  However, news that Huey’s ex-wife is seeking back child support that he failed to pay.

In all likelihood, Hahn will win today.  Her future in the Congress depends on both the redistricting commission and whether she decides to govern as Janice 1.0, the progressive from the primary, or Janice 2.0, the “maverick” from the general.

Get Out The Vote for Janice Hahn!

The countdown has begun before tomorrow's election to replace Congresswoman Jane Harman. If you've been paying close attention to the race, the media is making it sound like the election is going to be a nail biter with a photo finish, which isn't surprising because they love a good horse race. But that assessment seems rather dubious.

Without a doubt, the race is certainly closer than it should be. With an 18 point Democratic registration advantage, Janice Hahn should be walking away with this, but the polls aren't exactly reflecting that. The latest PPP poll only has Hahn up by 8 points. That's certainly lower than it should be considering the registration of that district, but it's also a far cry from being neck and neck. Any other race and 8 points isn't even close. One has to wonder if it weren't for the fact that it fits better with the media meme of an enthusiam gap between the Democrats and Republicans, if this race would really get that much coverage at all. 

Now, nobody's going to write off Huey. It's certainly true that stranger things can and have happened. Nobody thought Huey would make it into the run-off. Huey has spent a good $800,000 of his own money on this race. Huey signs are everywhere in the district. Special elections tend to help Republicans because Democrats tend to vote less frequently in them. And then there's the fabled "enthusiasm gap." But still. It will be quite difficult for Huey to pull it off tomorrow, especially if voters turnout at least at the levels that they did in the primary. It's a sheer numbers game. Progressives were split between Hahn, Bowen, and Winograd in the primary, but they know who the better candidate is between Hahn and Huey -and that's Janice Hahn.

The California League of Conservation Voters endorsed Hahn because of her dedication to protecting our natural resources and public health. She also has a bold plan for clean energy jobs to get California's economy back on track. Huey for his part called Hahn's proposal for green jobs "fantasy economics." Tell that to Silicon Valley.

Despite the enormous progress made by the Environmental Protection Agency in cleaning up our air and our water and protecting public health, Huey told reporters that “EPA policies are out of control and must be cut back and funding slashed.” He doesn't get it.

As always, turnout will ultimately decide this election, and CLCV is working hard to turnout our members in the district. If you live in Congressional District 36, be sure to go out and vote for Janice Hahn tomorrow. With your vote, Janice Hahn will be the next Congresswoman from CD 36 and continue to be a strong voice for the environment.

Janice Hahn: Extreme Makeover Edition

How about that CA-36 election?

Racist videos, demands, counter demands, FEC complaintsmassive fundraising off of said video, a weird “sexting” scandal involving Hahn’s former chief of staff, more negative mailers than I can shake a stick at, and now this:

Janice Hahn is apparently no longer a Democrat.

According to the ad above, Janice Hahn is “a local City Council Woman who has never held partisan office.”

Let’s review for a second, shall we? Just two months ago, when Hahn was competing for the official CA Dem Party endorsement, her campaign caused quite a stir when it called into question a competing candidate’s party loyalty, saying,

I was born a Democrat, I was raised a Democrat, and when I am elected to Congress, I will never forget that I’m a Democrat,” said Councilwoman Janice Hahn. “I grew up learning early on about Democratic values-my dad, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenny Hahn taught me about civil rights, equality, and the importance of the middle class. When I go to Congress I pledge to stand up for these Democratic values and be a fighter for the people of the 36th Congressional District.”

Hahn’s new persona isn’t just limited to TV advertising either. More over the flip.

One of the first things her campaign did was change her ballot description from “LA City Councilwoman” to “Local City Councilwoman”, hoping to erase any negative associations and connections with the City of Los Angeles.

And in mailers sent out from the LA County Federation of Labor this week, there’s this:

So this is clearly a strategy on Hahn’s part to pivot away from her partisan image and depict the candidate in such a way that she’ll appeal to independent and swing voters.

Now this might be a good strategy in a general election where you’re dealing with less informed voters and have time to rebrand yourself, but that’s not the election we’re in now.

This election is a low turnout down and dirty sprint to the finish, where both candidates have to fire up a committed base of informed, partisan voters and drag them to the polls.  The last thing you want to do is run away from the partisan voters who brung you to the dance in the first place.

Craig Huey certainly isn’t running away from his base. They’re fired up and ready to go, recruiting Tea Party volunteers from as far away as San Diego to come canvass for the candidate.

And Huey isn’t at all shy about using Hahn’s numerous (and valid IMHO) attacks against him to both fire up his own voters and depress Hahn’s potential Democratic base. This week an IE from the “Friends of Huey For Congress” sent out a flyer calling into question Hahn’s honesty by dredging up the attacks her campaign made against Debra Bowen in the final days of the primary, even going as far as quoting Bowen’s campaign manager, as well as I post I put up on Daily Kos during the primary.

Now anyone reading my blog or the posts about the CA-36 race I’ve written here knows I’m not the biggest fan of Janice Hahn, but I also don’t want my district handed over to a Tea-bagger. I hope somebody, anybody from Hahn’s campaign will read this and come to their senses.

In an election where turnout could go as low as 10-15%, where the electorate is suffering from some serious voter fatigue, and many others have no idea there even is an election, firing up the base is everything.

In Hahn’s case, the base are committed Democrats who want a committed Democrat to fight for them in congress. By now presenting herself to voters as a “local City Council Woman who has never held partisan office”, she’s basically signaling to the base she’s yet another wishy-washy DINO Congress-critter who may or may not uphold the values they hold dear. Better than a Teabagger, sure, but not by much.

And that, dear friends, can be a recipe for disaster. I guess we’ll know for sure in two weeks.

The Lies Behind The Racist Video Attack On Janice Hahn

The racist attack video directed at LA Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the Democratic candidate in the upcoming special election in California’s 36th Congressional district, is based on a thoroughly discredited three-year-old TV report on the local FOX affiliate, KTTV, which is owned and operated by the network.

While admitting the ad was offensive, TPM reports, the National Republican Congressional Committee said the ad made a good point, linking to the KTTV report as if it hadn’t been totally discredited within a matter of weeks over three years ago, as the newspaper I work for, Random Lengths News reported at the time.

The FOX report, by Chris Blatchford, aired on KTTV on April 30, 2008, and was systematically debunked by reporter Gene Maddaus in the Daily Breeze on May 14, 2008.  The Breeze is a suburban Republican newspaper that is generally critical of Hahn, but has some excellent reporters.

Summarizing his findings, Maddaus wrote, “a review of the Fox 11 News story found major flaws that undermine its central allegations. Most notably, records and interviews show that the gang intervention workers identified in the report have not received city funding. Additionally, a convicted rapist was wrongly identified as a gang intervention worker, and Hahn was mistakenly accused of providing funds directly to gang workers.”

The sole piece of hard evidence presented by FOX connecting Hahn  to the rapist, Steven Myrick, was a routine certificate for participating in a summer jobs program in 2004, a year before the gang task force was organized, and two years before his rape arrest. This was surrounded by Myrick’s own self-serving puffery about how connected he was–standard-issue BS that no reporter worth his salt would rely on without substantial corroboration, which FOX did not have. In fact, the evidence Maddaus dug up showed that Myrick was simply lying.

In addition to gang members, the FOX report was based on interviews with two LAPD officers with an axe or two to grind.  Ryan Moreno and Chuck Garcia were suing the department for having been re-assigned from the gang task force in Watts, which they accused Hahn of being involved in.  (Hahn simply passed on community complaints about disrespectful attitudes, which were incompatible with the LAPD’s efforts to embrace a less confrontational “community-based policing” approach.) The two officers lost their case in mid-June, thus giving the FOX report the air of a failed pre-trial effort to taint the jury pool. Hahn was not a named party in the suit, and everything relating to her was excluded by the judge as irrelevant before the trial began.

As senior editor at Random Lengths News, a biweekly serving much of Hahn’s district, I co-wrote a story about this whole affair and its ramifications in local politics, which appeared on June 13.   The article referenced the Breeze article, and summarized some of its main points thus:

  • “Most notably, records and interviews show that the gang intervention workers identified in the [Fox News] report have not received city funding.”

  • The group cited, Unity One, runs almost entirely on funding from private sources. Gang intervention workers like Jones are paid from that private funding, not with taxpayer money.

  • According to records provided by Toberman Neighborhood Center [the premier local social service agency] city funding that passed through Toberman goes to pay salaries for Bo Taylor, the president of Unity One, and Skip Townsend, a program manager. Hahn did not obtain that money for Unity One.

  • A “convicted rapist was wrongly identified as a gang intervention worker.”

We also noted that “recent events have left some people wondering how much blood was drawn, and whether any of it will make a difference in 2009, when she [Hahn] is up for reelection–or if it was simply intended to damage her chances for further higher office.”

In the years since then, we have reported on recurrent rumblings by mostly-rightwing individuals repeatedly promising the imminent launch of a recall campaign.  These reached an apparent high-point last summer (story here), only to collapse into dust. The disproven gang allegations are part of a grab-bag of shifting complaints  they have cited, but they have repeatedly undermined their own credibility, first by their own secretive methods–always excusing themselves by promising to go public when “the time is right”, second by failing to ever actually launch their public campaign, and third by repeatedly mentioning these publicly-refuted allegations.

In trying to defend himself, the video maker, Ladd Ehlinger Jr. said, in part, “Claim victimhood all you like, but how many people were victimized by your coddling? There’s a reason Mayor Villaraigosa took the program away from you. He’s a Democrat. So are you. Think about it.”

But the reorganization of all gang task forces into a single structure was already underway when FOX aired the original hit piece–not to mention the fact that the accusing officers blamed the entire LAPD command structure, for which Villaraigosa is responsible, not Janice Hahn.

When KTTV presented Blatchford’s report, it was introduced by anchorwoman Christine DeVine saying, “The Mayor’s Office is soon taking over control of all city anti-gang programs and plans to increase spending on gang prevention and intervention. Tonight Chris Blatchford with a FOX 11 News investigation of how some of that money has gone to the gangsters themselves.”  

As already noted, the accusation was false–but the timing was accurate: The consolidation of anti-gang programs was already underway when FOX aired its anti-Hahn hit piece.

There is a great deal more of local backstory to all this. The LAPD has a long, ugly history of racism, which it has only recently made giant strides to overcome.  As recently as  2007, there was a police riot on May Day, attacking thousands of innocent demonstrators, as well media covering the event, and people simply enjoying a day at the park.  (Random Lengths story here.)  The department has now fully embraced the pro-active multifaceted strategy of community-based policing, but there are still significant elements within the ranks who remain deeply opposed to working with the community, rather than lording it over them. This was a clear example of that.  

Add to that the fact that Hahn’s father, long-time County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, was a legendary figure principally responsible for virtually the entire first generation of both Black and Latino elected officials in Los Angeles County, and you begin to get a feel for just how much even deeper racial ugliness this latest vicious act of racism is trying to hide.

CA-36: Janice Hahn wants your money

/(crossposted from Daily Kos)/

I received this in my e-mail today and present it as a public service:


I have great news! Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the California Democratic Party and a host of other Democratic Leaders have thrown their support behind my campaign for Congress. These great leaders share my commitment to ending the wars overseas, investing in our communities at home and creating sustainable, green jobs. They know what it will take to get it done, and they know I’m the right person to represent this district.

(continued after the jump)

The primary campaign that ended last week was difficult – its always tough when fellow Democrats talk about what sets them apart. But now that we’re facing an extremist, Tea Party Republican in the general election we simply must bring all the members of our party together.

Will you help us unify the Party? There is too much at stake in this election to let even one Democrat sit out the election in July. If you can give $50, $75 or even $100, we can reach all those who voted in the primary, and make sure they’re with us on general election day.

Our Republican opponent does not share our vision for the future, and he doesn’t represent the people in our communities.We need your help to make sure your friends and neighbors know how much this election means, and come out on election day. A small contribution goes a long way!



Janice Hahn supporters, I think that this was intended for you rather than me.  I presume that, in CA-36 and given the institutional support that she received, Hahn should be able to beat teabagger Craig Huey without lots of small-donor contributions.  (If not, then nominating her was not so bright a move.)  So this fundraising effort seems more likely to pay off past debts to the advisors who encouraged her to come up with an “unqualified support for Israel” pledge — as if that was the major issue we face today — to give Debra Bowen the choice between (1) pissing off major funders who, if such a pledge existed, would expect to see it signed and (2) Marcy Winograd, who if Bowen signed the pledge would get into the race and split the progressive vote.  For those of us who thought that using the sensitivities of the Jewish community to bait such a trap for her own political gain was pretty rotten, I see no particular point in helping her retire any such debt.  Frankly, it just encourages this sort of misbehavior.

I do hope that Hahn beats the Teabagger in the runoff, but I resent now being asked to pay for it in the name of “party unity.”  Frankly, if you want party unity after the election, don’t pull that sort of crap before the election.  If you do, you should expect to pay for the runoff by yourself.  There are other races — including those recalls in Wisconsin — that also need progressive money.  If Hahn is hurting, Jane Harman might be able to get some friends together and write her some checks.

If this letter had come from someone else, on Hahn behalf, it would not rankle in quite the same way.  It’s telling that it didn’t.

Janice Hahn Won The Battle For CA-36 In 2011. Could She Lose The War In 2012?

What you’re about to read won’t be an exercise in sour grapes.

The candidate I supported, Debra Bowen, lost fair and square to a better-funded candidate with far more institutional support and a well thought-out strategic path to victory.  

Janice Hahn is unequivocally our best choice now to represent us in CA-36.  

Her competitor, Tea Party Republican Craig Huey, is a nasty piece of work. Fortunately for us, Janice Hahn and our union allies have the resources to make sure he won’t get elected in 2011.  

However, 2012, after CA-36 is redistricted, might be a different story altogether.  That’s why I’m writing this final piece on the election.

To better understand what might happen in 2012, I first need to tell you how we got here, and how Janice Hahn’s strategic choices, coupled with Marcy Winograd’s ego, may have created a perfect storm in which to bring a previously unknown Tea Party candidate to national prominence.

Splitting the Vote

Back in February, when Bowen announced she’d compete with Hahn to replace Jane Harman as our congress member, Hahn’s number one priority was to get Marcy Winograd in the race. Not only did Winograd have significant name recognition after running two unsuccessful campaigns against Jane Harman, her base of support drew from the same pool of voters Bowen would need to win – progressives who lived north of LAX.

So Hahn’s campaign used a story that appeared in the Jewish Journal, “Harman’s departure: what does it mean for Jews?” to manufactured a narrative of concern for the district’s Jewish community about Jane Harman’s potential replacement in congress.  I say manufactured, because the article itself expressed no such concerns, concluding,  

Harman’s departure may mean one less Jewish player in the game, but the impact of that loss on Jewish influence will likely be negligible. While the landscape for Jewish politics in the next two years includes fewer safe districts for Jewish elected officials, the community can be assured of holding sway on numerous fronts as its high level of civic involvement continues to stand out in the city and region.

But that hardly mattered to Hahn, who just needed an excuse to create a wedge between Winograd and Bowen.  

Using the article as a launching pad, Hahn’s campaign demanded that Debra Bowen sign on to a pro-Israel “pledge” genetically designed to ram a red-hot poker through Winograd’s eye. The pledge called out Winograd by name, sited some of her harshest rhetoric against Israel, and concluded with this quote from Henry Waxman,  

“In Marcy Winograd’s foreign policy, Israel would cease to exist. In Marcy Winograd’s vision, Jews would be at the mercy of those who do not respect democracy or human rights.”

At that moment Bowen had a choice to make; ignore Hahn, (and risk creating an issue with the district’s Jewish community) create her own statement of support for Israel minus the Winograd-bait, or sign on to Hahn’s pledge.

Bowen chose to sign on to Hahn’s pledge. And walked right into the buzzsaw that is Marcy Winograd’s ego.  

Two days later, Winograd, who had previously told key supporters she wouldn’t run, told those same supporters she was furious that Hahn and Bowen had tried to “silence dissent in the 36th district”, and asked them to withhold endorsements from Bowen.  Four days after that, Winograd announced she would run, specifically citing the Hahn/Bowen pledge as the reason.  

Let Loose The Dogs Of War

Hahn’s strategy worked better than she could have hoped. Despite no institutional support, anemic fundraising, and polls showing she’d be lucky to get even 6% of the vote, Winograd nevertheless ran the most aggressive campaign she could given the circumstances. Even better, Winograd and her supporters barely mentioned Hahn, but attacked Debra Bowen, Winograd’s closest competitor, relentlessly.  

One “passionate” and prolific Winograd surrogate wrote scathing posts on progressive listserves and blogs questioning Bowen’s progressive credentials, others accused her of being a closet Republican and (bizarrely) a Jane Harman clone. A paid Winograd campaign staffer, Peter Thottam, wrote a widely distributed and unsourced hit piece on Bowen, accusing her of trading votes in exchange for Enron campaign contributions  while she served in the State Senate.

In effect, Winograd’s campaign became the opposition research farm-team for Hahn, who used their attacks in her own campaign, even using Thottam’s hit piece verbatim in one of her attack mailers against Bowen.  

Republicans? What Republicans?

While Hahn, Bowen, and Winograd duked it out on the Democratic side, a previously unknown evangelical millionaire named Craig Huey from Rollings Hills Estates was quietly consolidating the Republican vote.  

Huey, who made his fortune in direct marketing, poured half a million dollars of his own money into the campaign, giving him more resources than any other candidate in the race.  

The money allowed him to blanket the district with more than just lawn signs – with it he bought cable TV and radio time,  and ran a targeted mailing campaign which rivaled Janice Hahn’s.

Backed by prominent Republicans Dana Rohrabacher, Tom McClintock, and former Assemblyman Chuck Devore, in the final few weeks leading up to election day Huey simply overwhelmed the anemic and underfunded campaigns of his closest Republican competitors, Mike Gin, the gay, moderate, pro-choice mayor of Redondo Beach, and Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb.  

Yet right up until election day, the media largely ignored Huey – even as they fell all over themselves to cover stunt candidate Dan Adler, who’s entire campaign consisted of a series of bizarre YouTube videos staring himself and campaign manager/actor Sean Astin (Adler got a grand total of 355 votes)

But not everyone was ignoring Craig Huey. In fact, Janice Hahn and her campaign were paying very close intention.

The Best Opponent Money Can Buy

A couple of weeks before election day, Hahn’s campaign reportedly ran a tracking poll which showed Huey surging in the polls and consolidating Republican support.

However, Bowen’s aggressive, state-of-the-art field campaign (1,100 volunteers, 350,000 phone calls, 15,000 doors canvassed) still kept Bowen solidly in second place and Huey out of the runoff.

So Hahn, who believed Huey would be a far easier candidate to beat in the runoff than Bowen, chose her moment.

Five days before election day, Hahn invested heavily in a multi-pronged direct mail attack. A series of negative campaign pieces targeting Bowen arrived in voter’s mailboxes – one mailer appeared to support Winograd’s campaign, another hit Bowen for old campaign contributions, and yet another used attacks from the Winograd campaign staffer who accused Bowen of selling her votes to Enron.

In part, that mailer read, “Some people went to jail for this. Debra Bowen wants to go to Washington.”  

The tone and deceptive nature of the mailers stunned Bowen and Hahn supporters alike. Bill Brand, a Redondo Beach City Councilman who endorsed Hahn in the race, told supporters in a GOTV email he “wasn’t happy with the last minute negative pieces.”  With a runoff still to come, many activists in the district were dismayed Hahn had gone so negative so early against the well-liked Secretary of State.  

But Hahn’s strategy worked. Bowen’s support lagged in the final few days, even as Huey’s surged. In the end, Huey beat Bowen by 750 votes in an election where only 18% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot.

Hahn was clearly happy with the result, telling the Daily Breeze,  

“I would rather run against him than Debra Bowen. I think the choice for voters is more clear.”

Winograd, who had received 41% of the vote when she ran against Jane Harman in 2010, barely received 9% of the vote this time around.  

Ironically, it was more than enough to ensure that Janice Hahn, who claimed to be Jane Harman’s hand-picked successor would be the district’s next representative in Congress.

Be Careful For What You Wish For

Without a doubt, Janice Hahn will be our next Congresswoman in CA-36.  

But that victory has, and will, come at a price.  

Nearly a week after defeating Bowen in a bitterly contested race, Hahn has shown little interest in mending fences with her activist supporters. Bowen herself declined to endorse Hahn, citing a long-standing policy as Secretary of State. So I don’t see this rift healing any time soon. To be frank, it really doesn’t have to, the specter of a Tea Party Republican taking the seat is motivation enough for most people. And as I said at the beginning of this piece, Hahn has more than enough resources and institutional support to beat back a challenge from Craig Huey regardless (although unions will have to commit resources to defend this seat in a way they wouldn’t have had to if pro-union Debra Bowen had been in the runoff).

But Hahn’s margin of victory probably won’t be a landslide. In 2010, Assemblywoman Betsy Butler – whose district covers most of CA-36 – had an uncomfortably close call with Tea Party candidate Nathan Mintz. In a district that has 18% more registered Democrats than Republicans, Mintz took 43% of the vote.  

In that race, over a 100,000 voters cast a ballot. The May 17th special election had only about half that turnout, and the runoff in July will likely be even worse. So barring any unforeseen scandals involving farm animals, Craig Huey has a good chance of building on Mintz’s success. Not enough to win certainly, but enough to get everyone’s attention.

But the real problem isn’t this year and this election. It’s next year, when CA-36 becomes significantly different, and potentially much more conservative, after redistricting.  

From what I’ve heard and read, CA-36 is probably going to lose everything north of  LAX, and potentially gain back Palos Verdes. Palos Verdes, connected to an Orange County district by a block-wide strip in Long Beach and a narrow strip of San Pedro, is profoundly gerrymandered. Those Republicans have to go somewhere.

If this happens, it would significantly cut into Democrat’s voter registration advantage, and create a district that more closely resembles the one in which Janice Hahn previously ran for congress in 1998.  

Hahn lost that race, to Republican Steve Kuykendall, 47% to 49%.

Janice Hahn got the opponent she wanted. But by helping to advance Huey into the runoff, Hahn has elevated him from an unknown evangelical advertising consultant to a national figure in the Tea Party movement. The media isn’t ignoring Craig Huey anymore. He has two months to build up his name recognition and base of support. And when he loses in July, he can turn right around and start stumping for the June 2012 primary race in a district likely to be far more receptive to his message.

Janice Hahn will be our next representative in Congress. She has indeed won that  battle.  

But in doing so, she may have put herself in a position to lose the war.