For Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the second time proved to be the charm.
Hahn, a Democrat, beat Republican Craig Huey in a special election runoff for the 36th Congressional District seat July 12. The councilwoman, 59, won with 41,585 votes or 54.5 percent of ballots tallied. Huey, 61, totaled 34,636 votes for 45.4 percent.
Hahn previously sought the congressional seat 13 years ago but lost in the general election to Republican Steven Kuykendall.
“We worked hard, and tonight the voters of the 36th District have spoken, and they’ve sent a resounding message to Congress that Americans want a fresh perspective, and common sense solutions, guiding our decisions in Washington,” Hahn told a group of supporters at an election night celebration at a San Pedro restaurant.
“They’ve made it clear that they want us to focus on jobs and the economy, and get out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They want us to protect Social Security and Medicare. They want us to fight for a woman’s right to choose, take care of our environment, and end tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires, and corporate jet owners.
“But most of all,” Hahn added, “Americans want us to put aside extreme party politics and work together to solve problems for our country.”
Democrats hold an 18-point advantage in the 36th District, which includes Venice, Mar Vista and portions of Playa del Rey, as well as the coastal cities of the South Bay.
Hahn and Huey won the first round of the election cycle as the top two candidates in a May 17 race, where Huey, a Rolling Hills businessman, surprised the political world by besting Secretary of State and Democrat Debra Bowen, who was favored to advance to the next round for an all-women showdown with Hahn.
The campaign took a contentious turn shortly after the May election. Huey’s campaign complained about a series of automated or “robo calls” made by Hahn’s organization accusing of seeking to privatize Social Security and end Medicare. Hahn took issue over a video that was denounced as sexist and racist that depicted her as a stripper and accused the councilwoman of giving city funds to gang members.
Political observers said turnout would be the deciding factor for the winner on election night.
“In a race with low turnout, which is expected, your base will play a determining factor in who wins the election,” predicted Loyola Marymount University professor Richard Fox, an expert on congressional elections.
According to the County Registrar/Recorder’s office, 23 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the special election.
“I’m thrilled that Janice Hahn won,” said Venice resident Linda Lucks, who initially supported Bowen. “I’m glad that the seat stayed in Democratic hands and I look forward to working with her on issues relating to Venice.”
Labor and women’s organizations, as well as environmental groups and national Democratic figures backed Hahn, including President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
Tea Party groups and conservative activists and lawmakers supported Huey.
“The entire EMILY’s List community could not be happier with tonight’s victory,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said on election night.
The congresswoman-elect’s victory had a bittersweet feel. Hahn’s mother, Ramona, passed away July 11.
The race was the first under California’s new “open primary” law, where the top two winners advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.