Surprise Republican may advance to runoff for long-held Democratic House seat
May 18th, 2011
12:47 PM ET
11 years ago

Surprise Republican may advance to runoff for long-held Democratic House seat

(CNN) - Democratic Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn has advanced to a July 12 special runoff election to replace former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman in Congress, according to unofficial vote returns from a special election held Tuesday.

Her opponent will either be Republican businessman Craig Huey or California's Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Huey's current second-place showing in a district where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by almost two-to-one can largely be attributed to a split Democratic vote between Hahn, Bowen, and Democratic activist Marcy Winograd, who garnered 9.5 percent of the vote.

As of Wednesday morning, Huey lead Bowen by 206 votes for the second spot in the July runoff, with provisional, vote-by-mail, and damaged ballots yet to be counted. Local elections officials have until May 24 to send final election results to the state.

Though trailing, Bowen has not conceded the race, citing the narrow margin and the large number of remaining untabulated ballots.

"This has been a very spirited campaign and it remains very close. There are 9,811 ballots that still need to be processed – more than enough to make up the difference. We are confident Debra Bowen will be in the runoff," said Bowen campaign manager Dan Chavez in a written statement Wednesday.

In accordance with state law, all candidates in the special election, regardless of party, ran on the same primary ballot. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to the special runoff election.

California's 36th congressional district, located entirely within Los Angeles County, is reliably Democratic. President Obama carried the district with 64.4 percent in 2008. Democrats John Kerry and Al Gore each won here with just under 60 percent of the vote in 2004 and 2000, respectively. Democratic candidates in Tuesday's special election received a combined 56.7 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning, compared to 40.9 percent for Republican candidates.

Nonetheless, the seat is not always a lock for Democrats. Republican Steve Kuykendall won the seat for one term in 1998, when Harman left Congress after a failed gubernatorial bid. The candidate he defeated narrowly that year – Janice Hahn, the top vote-getter in Tuesday's election. Kuykendall lost narrowly two years later when Harman reclaimed her old seat.
Harman held the seat since then by comfortable margins. She resigned in February to head the Woodrow Wilson Institute.

Filed under: California • Congress • Jane Harman
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Arkansas Undertaker

    Gee....Wishful thinking!

    May 18, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. obama victim

    and another dumbocrap bites the sweeeeeeeeet it is

    May 18, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country (the brually honest real deal)

    With a 2 to 1 margin, it is amazing a Republican has won this seat in the past. Californians must have very brief moments of sanity, but then regress into their normal state.

    May 18, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    I personally voted for Debra Bowen, but this freak Huey will be crushed by Janice Hahn in the run-off election...

    ...leave it to CNN to make a story out of a non-story....

    May 18, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. The Other Campaign Strategist @ 115th and Amsterdam Ave.

    The headline suggests that the Republicans actually have a chance for this seat. Unless the Democrats are completely INCOMPETENT, they should win this easily.

    Then again, they ran a lackluster campaign in Mass and allowed Scott Brown to enter the Senate. I trust Senator Martinez (NJ) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL) are paying attention this time.

    Kerry for Secretary of State .... Maria Schriver for Senator of Massachusetts . ... a slam dunk .

    May 18, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Publius Novus

    So much for California's new primary system. It looks like there is a simple way to game the system. "Stuff" the primary with as many candidates as possible from the other party.

    May 18, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. mesamick

    After the way the (R)s have torpedoed that state's finances, voted in laws taking away a woman's liberties regarding the care and use of her own body and the right to form a legal and binding civil union between consenting adults, anyone in CA that votes for another (R) is really brain damaged...

    May 18, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Glenn from Cary

    What a stupid election law. But then – consider the state.

    May 18, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |