Janice Hahn will be the newest member of Congress, after the Los Angeles city councilwoman defeated Republican businessman Craig Huey in the special election to replace retiring Democrat Rep. Jane Harman in California's 36th District.
Hahn won by a margin of slightly less than 7,000 votes, with 41,585 votes (54.6%) to Huey's 34,636 (45.4%) in liberal southern California district that includes several beach towns west of Los Angeles. The Democrat spent more than $1 million on a harshly negative campaign, with mailers and TV ads that portrayed Huey as a "radical right-wing extremist," comparing him to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and even Dick Cheney. Huey's own campaign emphasized economic issues.
The CA-36 special election drew national attention in mid-June, when a political action committee funded a controversial attack ad by independent filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr., using rap music to highlight Hahn's support for a "gang intervention" program in L.A.
Having defeated California Secretary of State Debra Bowen in a multi-candidate "jungle primary" in May, Hahn underperformed in Tuesday's special election in a district where Harman had won re-election with 59% of the vote in November. And Hahn may be vulnerable when she comes up for re-election next year. "The district will be redrawn, along with others in California, before then, and most expect it to be at least somewhat less Democratic," the Los Angeles Times noted.
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