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Crowded field in South Bay congressional race

May 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A crowded field of candidates is running to replace veteran congresswoman Jane Harman. Harman resigned earlier this year to lead a Washington think tank. South Bay voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose the person who will complete Harman's term serving the 36th Congressional District.

Janice Hahn has been a Los Angeles city councilwoman for 10 years and comes from one of the best-known political families in Los Angeles. She is one of 16 candidates running for the congressional seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice). The district extends roughly from Venice to San Pedro.

The 36th Congressional District is 46-percent Democratic and 27-percent Republican.

Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen wants to move to Congress.

Activist and teacher Marcy Winograd shares her ambition.

The six Republicans, including two-term Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, are given little chance of victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. Gin admits it, but is running as if he could win.

"I come from a mayor's perspective," said Gin. "A mayor's perspective is that you don't work on Republican or Democratic issues, you work on solving problems."

Hahn ran for lieutenant governor and lost. She has more money than her Democratic opponents in this race. She has major labor endorsements and money from developers and special interests.

"And I actually think that's been my strength on the city council is I've been able to bring all those groups together to clean the port, to move cargo off peak -- I mean, huge initiatives that I couldn't do if I was just paying attention to one special interest," said Hahn.

Two-term Secretary of State Debra Bowen is considered most likely to face Hahn in a runoff election if one candidate fails to get more than 50 percent of the vote. With 16 candidates in the race, that's the expected outcome.

Bowen says her 14 years in the legislature make her the only one with experience in a partisan environment.

"Sacramento is a shark tank. I know Washington, D.C., is a little larger shark tank," said Bowen. "But nonetheless, it is quite different trying to get things done in a partisan environment like that."

Winograd is the only top Democrat not elected to public office. She's a public school teacher. She earned 41 percent of the vote in the last election against incumbent councilwoman Hahn.

"We just need a new national initiative to embrace education," said Winograd. "I am not in anybody's pocket. I am here to work and serve the people."

It's pretty much a given that because of the number of candidates, no candidate will be able to win a majority in Tuesday's election. That puts the top two into a runoff in July.


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