Over 9,800 provisional votes remain uncounted in special election

BY GARY WALKER

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn took the top spot in the May 17 special election race for the 36th Congressional District, outpacing 15 other candidates and securing her spot in the general election runoff.

With all precincts reporting, Hahn, a Democrat, took 24.6 percent of ballots tallied and moved into the runoff with 13,136 votes. The councilwoman, who is the daughter of the late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and sister of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, was the first to declare her candidacy to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice). Harman abruptly left office in February after being reelected for a 10th term in November to take a position with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

South Bay Republican businessman Craig Huey surprised many political observers by making a strong showing that landed him in second place with 11,648 votes, narrowly ahead of Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, who has 11,442 with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the county registrar-recorder.

There are still 9,811 provisional ballots to be counted, so Hahn’s runoff opponent may not be known for several weeks.

This was the first election in the “top-two” era. California voters approved a ballot initiative last year that essentially eliminated party primaries. Candidates for office now run in an open primary and the two who have the most votes proceed to the runoff.

Huey made headlines on May 7 when he loaned his campaign $250,000, bringing the amount that he spent in the special election to over $500,00. As of the April 27 campaign-filing period, Hahn and Bowen had taken in approximately $424,000 and $338,000 respectively.

Democrat Marcy Winograd, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and peace activist, came in fourth with 5,066 votes, or 9.5 percent of the vote. Winograd was followed by two Redondo Beach Republican officeholders, Mayor Michael Gin and City Attorney Michael Webb, who garnered 4,145 and 3,148 votes, respectively.

Winograd challenged Harman in 2008 and 2010 in the Democratic primary, winning 41 percent of the vote last year.

Hahn has largely benefited from organized labor organizations, a strong name identification in the southern portion of the district and endorsements from city, state and national elected leaders.

Huey, who ran a conservative platform in a district known for its liberal to moderate predilections, was endorsed by right-leaning state and nationally elected leaders as well as many business groups in the South Bay. His willingness to spend his own money may have positioned himself for a major upset.

Bowen and Hahn were considered the frontrunners throughout the campaign. The secretary of state represented the district in the Assembly and the state Senate for more than 12 years and received endorsements from a variety of environmental groups.

Bowen campaign manager Dan Chavez expressed confidence that the secretary of state would proceed to the runoff. “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,” Chavez said. “We are confident Debra Bowen will be in the runoff.”

Huey’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

The congressional district includes Mar Vista, Venice, Playa del Rey and the South Bay.

The runoff will be held July 12.

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