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California's 36th Congressional District: Who should succeed former Rep. Jane Harman?

36th District Race

There are 16 candidates in the race for former Rep. Jane Harman's seat in California's 36th Congressional District. But only a few contenders rise to the top.

In Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, Jean Merl outlines the race, pointing readers to the three to watch: L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and antiwar activist Marcy Winograd. In it, she offers the candidates' stats (age, history, accolades). All are more liberal than Harman, who dubbed herself "the best Republican in the Democratic Party."

The editorial board took a similar view, but added Mike Gin, the liberal Republican mayor of Redondo Beach, to the list. Of the four, the board gave its endorsement to Hahn, for her energy, passion and effectiveness. Here's an excerpt:

Even Hahn's critics acknowledge her passion for the communities she serves and for the issues she champions. Charismatic and tough, she is a stalwart environmentalist (she supported the port's controversial Clean Truck Program, which has mandated new rules on vehicles to clean up the air in the region), an ardent advocate for the poor (she supported efforts to use city power to unionize private hotels) and a forceful fighter for jobs (she led the push for modernization of Los Angeles International Airport, in part because it is expected to generate 39,000 jobs). In this race, she enjoys the support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a number of the members of Congress she seeks to join in Washington.

Readers who commented on the endorsement tended not to agree, many of them throwing their support to Winogard. Here are two such comments, with spelling corrected for clarity.

From johnadriatico:

I've had the pleasure of meeting with Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen and agree with the Times' characterization of both as fine candidates.

However, I believe that the current problems facing our community and our nation demand a fresh perspective and genuine leadership. We have the chance to elect a genuine reformer with Marcy Winograd.

Marcy Winograd:

  • Is the only candidate to refuse all lobbyist and corporate donations
  • Is the only candidate who has pledged to not vote for any more money or TARP-like schemes for the financial industry
  • Is the only candidate who has constitutionally stood against involvement in the current Libyan military conflict, which was made without congressional approval
  • Will demand congressional hearings on how GE and other large corporations were able to get away with not paying income tax
  • Focuses on the urgent issues facing our community, such as preventing foreclosures, and using the infrastructure as well as the great resources of technology and skilled workers that the 36th is blessed with to create the jobs of the future in green energy and clean power.

After all is said and done, it comes down to who will stand on principle and who we can trust two and even ten years from now. Marcy is running a campaign based on ideas and listening to all voices in the community. I know she'll do our community proud.

From achurg:

It is a great pity that the Times dismisses Marcy Winograd's anti-war activism and her refusal to take corporate campaign donations.  The US federal budget allocates about $900 billion to the military, and about $300 billion to corporate oil, agribusiness and overseas subsidies, and insurance for nuclear power plants. These expenditures are the causes of our debt, outsourcing of jobs, and overall decline in our education and health. Winograd has framed the debate in these terms, and her prominent rivals imitate her jobs with peace rhetoric, but they would not defund the four wars the US is fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.  And they take corporate donations, so they will not be free to vote their conscience when they get to Washington.

Readers: How do you plan to vote in the May 17 special election?


Patt Morrison: Jane Harman, out of the fray

Los Angeles Times Endorsement: Councilwoman Janice Hahn for Congress

Editorial: The race to fill Jane Harman's congressional seat is a test of the state's new election rules

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Among the candidates vying to fill former Rep. Jane Harman's seat are, from left, teacher Marcy Winograd, L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Credit: Los Angeles Times


Comments () | Archives (14)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Michael Chernus

The 36th C D has rejected Marcy 2 times in the last 4 years & soon will have rejected Marcy 3 times with in 5 yrs.
Last year Marcy spent almost $1/2 million to move 2 points over her first failed attempt.
Marcy had confused rejection of SOME of former Congresswoman Harman's positions with strong support for her candidacy.
Marcy's appeal is limited where Janice Hahn's support seems broad, deep & growing @ a rapid rate.
Janice will be an outstanding Congresswoman
The Times endorsement was the correct position .


Marc Danziger

I'll agree with Michael that Marcy (who I know and respect) benefited from both a generalized opposition to the war and a generalized dislike for Jane Harman - who was seen as a DC insider who wasn't really connected to the district. But she's mistakenly assumed that her votes against Harman were _for_ her, as opposed to _against_ the wars and Harman.

Those issues aren't really on the table today. The public is tired of the wars, but - given a Democratic president who defused them as partisan issues - the political machinery can't get excited about war any more. Opposition to Harman is irrelevant because she isn't running. Marcy erred badly in her assumptions, and will badly damage her political brand with this race.

But Michael is wrong, both in his statement that it's a walkover victory for Janice Hahn and in assuming that she'd be a superior legislator. As a city councilmember, she has carried water for entrenched powerful interests - the same ones that have backed LA and California into the political and financial corner that we're all stuck in today.

Her vaunted Clean Trucks program was a giveaway to large carriers that forced small carriers and individual truckers out of business.

Her support for contributor Gambol Industries' shipyard - and then her bizarre insistence that she become the impartial referee on the issue - led to widespread complaints in her hometown of San Pedro.

To me, she represents the classic 'more of the same' politics that have devastated Los Angeles and California. We need to try something different, and in my view, that's Debra Bowen.

While I may not agree with all of her positions, she has conducted herself with impeccable honesty - both intellectual and moral - as a legislator and a state official.

We need that clearsightedness, intelligence, and honesty in our elected officials if we're going to keep from sinking the state. Janice can't provide it; Debra can.

Marc Danziger

M Montenegro

I am voting for Marcy Winograd because I want to take advantage of the unique opportunity to actually elect a principled, progressive candidate who will represent the interests of people, rather than corporations.
I am voting for Marcy Winograd because I share the collective vision for a peaceful, nuclear-free world.

Robert Brandin

Janice Hahn is well known for her record of creating jobs, supporting small business and labor, fighting pollution at the port, and protecting worker's rights. She is a strong advocate for the communities she serves. She's the right person, at the right time. Our district will be well represented with Janice on the job. Please join me in supporting Janice Hahn on May 17.

Ari Rubin

I take issue with Mr. Danziger's steep criticism of Janice Hahn. I work as a consultant in green energy technology and in my field, Ms. Hahn's Clean Truck Program at the L.A. Port is well renown.

For those who don't know, the program has cleaned up particulate matter in the port region by 80 percent in its first two years. It has replaced 4,000 dirty hauling trucks in Long Beach and on the 710/110 with clean-fuel alternatives.

And Mr. Danziger gets it very wrong in suggesting that this was in any fashion a giveaway to big business. Quite to the contrary, the policy led to the creation of new clean energy small businesses in the port area. One such company building electric truck rigs, Balqon, has been hiring like crazy. I've been thrilled to watch it unfold.

I respect each of the candidates, but in terms of their environmental records -- despite the Sierra Club's politically motivated support for Ms. Bowen -- I believe Ms. Hahn is clearly the victor.

On a side note, I have also had the pleasure of interacting with Ms. Hahn directly on a minor issue related to the Santa Monica Airport. I was surprised that Ms. Hahn contacted me herself instead of asking her staff to handle it. In terms of constituent services, I have only heard the warmest compliments towards Ms. Hahn. I know this is only a small part of the job, but it is an important part.


Steven M.  Johnson

The LA Times editorial board has supported Janice Hahn's candidacy, referring to her "energy, passion and effectiveness." All readers would likely agree that these are good qualities in a person. But if you think about it, a really good cheerleader can have these qualities. And Adolf Hitler had them, in abundance. So, while passion is greatly to be desired in a person, the next question would be: What is the candidate passionate about?
Among the top candidates vying for this important post, I believe Marcy Winograd is passionate about the issues that will deeply affect our nation for years to come. In her past challenges to Jane Harman, she has made note of the costs of ongoing wars, and how they undercut everything the U.S. stands for. She is passionate about those things, and I will be proud to vote for her.

Ron Richards

The United States Congress is neither a charter reform commission nor a city council. Membership should require a sophisticated command of both national and international issues.

It is unfortunate that the Times editorial board was not on hand at the “Democrats for Israel” candidates forum at which Ms. Hahn and her fellow “mainstream” Democrat Debra Bowen demonstrated an almost complete dearth of knowledge regarding the history of the Middle East in general, and of Zionism in Palestine in particular, offering up instead one pandering platitude after another. Hahn’s comments were painfully canned and vacuous, interspersed with so many declarations of her love for Israel that she was in danger of making Alan Dershowitz sound like Yasser Arafat.

The last thing we need in Congress is another ill-informed “yes-man”—or “yes-woman”— who is all too eager to vote like a “mainstream” Democrat. Only one candidate in that debate had the courage to stand up in a hostile crowd and speak the hard truth, and that is the candidate who has earned my confidence and my vote, Marcy Winograd.

Ron Richards
Veterans for Peace
CA 36th District


Any of you Winograd supporters think she will beat the polling, which has her at 6%? Think she has a chance of getting even 10%? Maybe even 15%?

How do you feel about knowing that Winograd will likely force a runoff between Hahn and Bowen, when without Winograd in the race, Bowen could win it without a runoff?


As a member of the Democratic Party, an LGBT Activist and a Young person - I can proudly ask everyone to support Debra Bowen. No one needs to speak for her because her record speaks for itself!

John Adriatico

Right now, I would like to thank the Times for listening to its readers and expanding its coverage of the candidates.
It's interesting on how Michael and Marc are having spirited discussions about Debra and Janice.
Debra Bowen supported the flawed three strikes bill for people, which throughout its history in the United States put individuals in prison for life for such bizarre things as stealing pizza or disputed air conditioning repair charges, but joined Republicans in blocking passage of the three strikes bill for corporations, which would protect people by preventing corporations guilty of three charges of willful negligence that results in death or damages over $1,000,000 from doing business in our state.
As a legislator, Bowen voted to deregulate the energy industry in 1996, a catalyst that led to the energy crisis in 2003. When she had a chance to atone for it in 2003 when a bill came up to re-regulate the energy industry, Bowen voted to "abstain." She was a former energy chair of the State Senate and took donations from Enron. Need I say more?

Janice Hahn has run a campaign based on celebrity/politician endorsements, which is nice if you're running a popularity contest, but being a representative isn't a popularity contest. It's about leadership, integrity and doing the right thing. I saw one of Janice Hahn's recent flyers talking about her opposition to the war, but I attended the Venice Neighborhood Council debate where Ron Kovic and Veterans for Peace held out a pledge for bringing our troops home and while Janice repeatedly said "I agree" when discussing Ron's proposal, she wouldn't sign his pledge to defund the war and bring our troops home. Do you want a representative who wants things both ways?

Also, ask both Janice and Debra about the pledge that Janice proposed and Debra signed that supported $30,000,000,000 towards Israel with "condemning anti-Israel Political Rhetoric."

If we can criticize our government without fear of condemnation and retribution from our elected officials, why can't we as a community, ostensibly the community they want to represent, have an open debate on providing $30,000,000,000 of our money towards foreign aid towards a first-world economy such as ours when we have pressing needs and rising deficits?

Marcy Winograd spent less than half of what Jane Harman spent to get 41% of the vote against a 18 year incumbent and the third-richest member of the House last year.

Beyond the glitter of the campaign, what really counts is what a representative does when elected and whether they will put the voice of the people above the money of corporations and lobbyists when voting or proposing legislation.

Marcy Winograd stands on principle and has never been afraid to work with others who might have different views, but share her heartfelt commitment towards making our community, country and world a better place.

We don't have to settle for the lesser of the evils, we don't have to settle between generic politicians who will tell you what you want to hear and do whatever is politically expedient for them when we can elect a representative in Marcy Winograd who will actually "represent" and bring our community together.

Nick Antonicello

The Los Angeles Times missed the opportunity to send a consistent, concise and reliable progressive to the House of Representatives by dismissing the candidacy of Marcy Winograd.

The winner of the primary will be 435th in seniority and in all probability a Democrat based on the voting patterns and demographics of the 36th CD.

Marcy Winograd's out-of-the-box approach to politics and government would make her unique and memorable in the following ways:

* Her absolute opposition to these conflicts that have gone on for too long. Winograd is the only candidate with the courage to defund these wars now!

* Marcy's peace agenda has a real plan for green jobs, a new economy and a true conversion from a aerospace platform to a more broad ranged economic agenda based on investments in education, transportation and new technologies.

* Marcy Winograd will protect MEDICARE while fighting for Single Payer healthcare

* Marcy Winograd wants to tax stock transactions a mere $1 cent to create the funding necessary for educational opportunity and full employment

* Marcy Winograd unlike her Democratic opponents has rejected corporate donations and is running the only clean money campaign

* Marcy Winograd has the endorsement of Vietnam War Veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic. Only Marcy Winograd stands with our veterans while Hahn & Bowen stand with their special interest donors who support these multiple conflicts.

In Bowen and Hahn you have identical political cousins. They walk alike and talk alike. They're both career politicians termed out of one political job looking for another! They both will accept a second federal pension after already having a taxpayer funded pension from their elective service here in California.

We need a real profile in courage, not a manufactured, packaged politician with nothing to say.

Marcy Winograd is that candidate.

Jacob W

While The Times did endorse Hahn, it should not surprise anyone that Winograd, a fridge candidate at best and an activist with no governing or executive experience, would receive the most support online. Her backers are certainly the most vocal when it comes to donations, lawn signs and online presence, yet this does not legitimize her candidacy.

First of all, both Hahn and Bowen have represented the 36th District in some capacity for the better part of a decade. Winograd didn't even live in the district until after she decided to run in 2006.

Hahn and Bowen are also liberal enough Democrats that they would be likely to join the Progressive Caucus once elected. Certainly the opinions of those on the left will be represented by either of them. Winograd would be one of the Democrats who votes against compromises and any funding of anything having to do with the military or foreign relations. She is not the wise official that the 36th needs to properly represent its interests.

Between Hahn and Bowen, though deciding between the two can prove to be a daunting task because of their similarity, I endorse Bowen over Hahn because of her steadfast record of creating and expanding programs for increased government transparency, economic opportunities for businesses, consumer protection, and environmental protection. Bowen will be a real leader in Congress looking out for the interests of Southern Californians, making sure we have good neighborhoods to come home and good jobs to return back from.

Pete Thottam


Marcy Winograd has been an organized, genuine, hard working, committed and passionate activist in the Anti-War movement, the 2006-2008 Bush/Cheney impeachment movement (Kucinich's HR 333), Healthcare Reform movement and other progressive efforts to authentically restore the People's voice to national government. Marcy received close to 38% of the vote in the 2006 primary and over 41% when she ran against Jane Harman in last summer's June 8th primary.

Marcy Winograd is not a party machine puppet or party sycophant who will humbly do what the party elders & attendant drones command. Not at all. She is a terrific individual and activist. Winograd is a teacher & citizen who has inspired countless thousands over the last decade. She puts her time, money and -- perhaps most importantly -- her heart where her words are. Marcy is a thinker and a doer : an authentic voice the likes of which voters are hungry for in these cynical and hard economic times. Marcy is the truest and most progressive voice for for this district's voters. She is aligned with their economic & social interests and -- importantly -- with their deeper values and their concerns about the directions this country has taken over the last decade.

Marta Evry

Peter, in the future, can you please be sure to disclose that you work for Winograd's campaign?





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