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.
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.
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.