GOP trying for upset in solidly Democratic congressional district
July 12th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
2 years ago

GOP trying for upset in solidly Democratic congressional district

(CNN) - A conservative Republican businessman with strong support from many tea party activists is hoping to pull an upset Tuesday in a special election for an open congressional seat long held by Democrats.

Voters in California's 36th Congressional District, which covers much of Los Angeles County's South Bay area, head to the polls to replace former Rep. Jane Harman, who stepped down earlier this year.

Turnout in the contest is expected to be near record lows, which could help Republican candidate Craig Huey, who is making his first run for public office. He's facing off against Democrat Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles City Council member and part of a prominent local political family, which gives her high name recognition.

Hahn was expected to be in the general election. Huey was not.

The two were among 16 candidates on the ballot in the first round in May. Hahn finished first in that contest and Huey came in second, upsetting Democrat Debra Bowen to make it to the second round.

Harman resigned from Congress in February, after 18 years in the House, to become president and director of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She cruised to easy re-election victories over the past decade, and Sen. Barack Obama won the district by 30 points over Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

But with unemployment in the state at 11.7 percent, Republicans think they have a shot at grabbing back this district, which includes a number of beach communities and is also home to many aerospace industries.

With concerns over low turnout, Hahn is receiving some get out the vote assistance from national Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, who taped a robo-call message to people in the district saying she's "the right choice."

Huey, the owner of a marketing company, has self financed much of his campaign, and has won strong support from many of the area's tea party activists. The Tea Party Express, one of the largest national tea party groups, put out an email to supporters earlier this week saying "If you loved Ronald Reagan as much as I did, then you will absolutely love the policies of Craig Huey. He is a total Reaganite, and exactly the kind of tea party Republican we need in Congress."

Huey has criticized Hahn as a "career politician."

In her ads, Hahn compared Huey to Sarah Palin, and says he'll push an "extremist right wing agenda."

The contest gained national attention last month when a web ad seen on YouTube made by an outside group not affiliated with Huey attacked Hahn, superimposing her face on a stripper's body and linked her to gang members. Huey distanced himself from the video, denouncing it as racist and sexist.

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN


Filed under: California • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Yeah. Good luck with that, Repukes.

    July 12, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. Independent In Albany

    I doubt this district is ready to welcome the nouveau fascista with open arms.......

    Best of luck GOP knuckledraggers

    July 12, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Just look at the ads they have releaased supporting him. Google "Turn Right USA" and you'll see just how racist and disgusting these peolpe truly...I'm sure you can find the video itself instead of reading CNN's watered-down prop-up-the-GOPer description of it.

    "made by an outside group not affiliated with Huey "

    Prove it. THEN report it. All we have are claims by his office that they had nothing to do with it and as far as anyone should be concerned, if the money came from people who support Huey, then that's all the "affiliation" needed to draw conclusions about just the type of person he is and the type of people he intends to represent.

    July 12, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Tony

    People of Los Angeles,

    If you are tired of a House of the tax cuts, by the tax cuts, for the tax cuts, and does not care if the government shuts down or defaults on its obligations, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, don't send another Republican to the Congress. He will just sit on his hands and do nothing, like the rest of the House Republicans.

    July 12, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Sandy

    Democrats, get off your rump and vote!

    July 12, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Committed to themselves, conservatives are.

    July 12, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. Patrick from Minnesota

    Nice try Republicans. You're not going to win this one, among the hundreds of others across America. In 2012, the American people will return you to the minority status you deserve.

    July 12, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. CA Native

    Republicans are not welcome here in CA. We care about the environment and about having a healthy ocean; their policies go against that. They want to drill off our coastline. I've seen what's happened in Wy. where natural gas wells have polluted the air so bad kids can't play outside on some days....just like LA use to be. We don't need more of that. We welcome clean energy and businesses that give a crap about the environment. Go ahead and call me a hippy even though I'm just a middle class working fool who happens to care about the future of the planet. We have too many people, that's the problem.

    July 12, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Bill from GA

    I hope the dems don't blow it like they did in Massachusetts and take this election for granted. This country is still suffering from that act of stupidity by the Mass. Dem Party, with help from the National Dem Party.

    July 12, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. GI Joe

    Did you see the hate-filled ads put out by republicans? My God !! That they even HAVE thoughts like that are really really scarey. I'm surprised there has only been one incident like the Arizona shooting.

    I want to know when progressive and compromise became "four-letter words" .

    July 12, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. donna

    These "Lunatics" and "Robber Barons" have to be non-human to think a win here????? The only Place you will win votes is "The South"??? Those people are your Extremist Fans! LOL

    July 12, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. GOP = Greed Over People

    47% of Americans want America to default on our debt, down from 60%. With that many showing a total ignorance of any economics classes so widespread in this country, who the Hell cares if they vote in another fascist.

    The country is doomed anyway since the majority obviously wants "America to fail".

    July 12, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. kjbav1611

    I've lived in this district for most of my life and it is thoroughly a highly pro-Union area that routinely votes Donkey. The Los Angeles Harbor is the gem of the area which takes in Billions daily. I would like to see a conservative seated for the area and hope people there wake up and see the effects of liberal/ progressive legislative destruction of their neighborhoods. If a Republican can win there (and I hope he does), one can win just about anywhere.

    Take the seat from all those LIBERAL LIMP-WRISTS and make the area respectable again.

    July 12, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |