(CNN) - Democrat Janice Hahn won a special election in California's 36th Congressional District Tuesday to replace former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, who stepped down earlier this year, according to unofficial results from the California Secretary of State's office.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Los Angeles City Council member Hahn received 54.6 percent of the vote to Republican candidate and businessman Craig Huey's 45.4 percent.
Hahn will replace Harman, who left Congress to become president and director of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in the district that covers much of Los Angeles County's South Bay area.
Having served 18 years in the House, Harman easily won reelection over the past decade in a district then-Sen. Barack Obama won by 30 points over Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in the 2008 presidential election.
With unemployment in the state at 11.7 percent, Republicans thought they might have a chance at winning the district, which includes beach communities and is also home to many aerospace industries.
Huey, the owner of a marketing company, self financed much of his campaign and won support from local tea party activists. The national Tea Party Express group backed the marketing company executive, comparing him to Reagan and urging their members to do the same. Huey repeatedly criticized Hahn as a career politician.
But Hahn received some outside assistance from national Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, who taped a robo-call message to voters in the district, which said Hahn was "the right choice." In her ads, she compared Huey to Sarah Palin and said he would push an "extremist right wing agenda" as a member of Congress.
- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.