Hahn-Huey Dogfight for Cong. District

JULY 11, 2011


After the February resignation of Democratic Rep. Jane Harman from the 36th Congressional District, most political observers assumed that it would be just another ho-hum political race. They expected a Democrat would easily win in the predominantly Democratic district.

But that assumption was quickly put to rest when Craig Huey, a Republican businessman and political outsider, won the second slot. He beat 15 other candidates, including California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Tomorrow is the special runoff election to fill the vacant seat.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn won the primary, but is facing an unexpected challenge from the come-from-nowhere businessman.

Huey attributes his surprise primary win and subsequent rising poll numbers to voters of both parties being fed up with business-as-usual politics. His articulate message of limited government, jobs creation and less government spending seems to resonate with voters.

The favorite in the race is Hahn, a longtime Los Angeles city councilwoman, who comes from a family well known in regional politics. Hahn’s father served for many years as a Los Angeles county supervisor and her brother served as mayor of Los Angeles.

Despite those ties, the congressional seat doesn’t appear to be a sure thing for Hahn, who slung a great deal of dung during the primary at Bowen, which may come back to cover her.

Huey calls Hahn a “career politician” whenever he has a chance, and blames her and other Democrats for rampant deficit spending, jobs-killing regulations and policies and overspending.

“It’s The Economy, Stupid”

The economy has been the singular theme for Huey, despite attempts by the Hahn campaign to get him off message and onto social issues. Huey has repeatedly said that Democrats are not only ignoring the disaster they’ve created in the country, but voters will not be forgiving because of the debt and dire times ahead for their children and grandchildren.

During one townhall meeting, Huey was asked about his position on abortion. Pajamas Media reporter Zombie shared Huey’s answer to the question:

One of the things that has been a part of all this screaming has been the issue of abortion. The first thing is, I believe that the Supreme Court Decision of Roe v. Wade is an incorrect decision as bad as the Drew Scott decision by the Supreme Court years ago about slavery — Dred Scott [correcting himself], thank you.

But the fact is, it’s the law of the land. This is not an issue in this district, it’s not an issue of Congress, it’s not an issue that I have.

What’s my stand on abortion? Well, let me tell you what my stand is. I believe that life does begin at conception. And this is a very personal thing for me. Because, you see, I’d been adopted. And I thank God for the two parents that I had. [Audience applause.] I thank God that I have life. And so what I believe is you promote a culture of adoption, as an alternative.

And so, bringing up the abortion issue is part of the scare tactics. It’s just disgusting to me. I’ve been focused on the economy, because that’s what people are concerned about. They realize that we have no bigger crisis than the economy.

Free Speech

Besides the economy, Huey strongly opposes attempts to revive the Fairness Doctrine, “a policy that is nothing more than a transparent attempt to silence those with whom powerful politicians disagree.”

And rather unusually, Huey also favors creating a 12-year limit for elected service in each house of Congress in order to stop career politicians from serving indefinitely in Washington.

But it’s his economic policies that seem to be winning him favor with voters. Huey supports reining in Federal spending, wants to cut taxes and subsidies, and to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. The cuts were extended in 2010, but expire again in 2013.

“It’s all about the economy,” Huey said on Monday in a CalWatchdog interview. “And while this is all new to me, it’s only about the deficit, debt, and people being out of jobs.”

While Huey focuses on mostly economic issues, Hahn supports the creation of a “green jobs plan,” which includes “Federal funding and regulatory policy for green energy” and plans to “level the playing field with Big Oil.”

Hahn’s economic priority “will be creating sustainable, well-paying jobs in the 36th District.” But her endorsements include more than 15 individual labor organizations, including the United Steel Workers, Iron Workers and firefighters. And she boasts a lengthy record on labor concessions, including a list titled,  A True Friend of Labor with the Record to Prove It.

Hahn supports policies “that empower local classroom teachers and schools principals,” as well as “making college affordable for everyone and she’ll work to ensure that Pell Grants and other forms of financial assistance are made available to students and their families.”

Huey’s endorsements are far different and seem to come from individuals, as well as elected Republican politicians.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the candidates also have funded their campaigns differently: “A substantial portion of Hahn’s contributions come from developers, lobbyists and others with business at City Hall. But she also has had help raising money from prominent Democratic leaders, including former President Bill Clinton; Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice female Democratic candidates; and others. Organized labor also is providing help with precinct walks, telephone banks and efforts to get people to vote.”  Hahn has raised more than $1 million.

Huey has raised $839,514 — of that, $695,000 he lent to his campaign, according to the Times.

“But Huey, too, has added to his coffers since June 22, according to notices filed with the FEC. On June 24, he donated $100,000 to his campaign. He also received $5,000 from the California Republican Party and $10,000 from others in the last few days,” reported the Times.

While the dichotomy of the two candidates is distinct, the race would have been a Democratic shoe-in if Huey had not beaten Bowen in the primary. Last year, voters passed Proposition 14, the Top Two primary system. Under it, a single primary is held among all the candidates from every party, or no party. A runoff then is held between the top two primary winners.

Hahn and Bowen widely were expected to be the top two winners in the May primary for the 36th district, giving Democrats both runoff slots. Hahn got the top slot. But Huey surprised everyone by edging out Bowen.

Tomorrow’s dogfight determines who goes to Congress.



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