Secretary of State Debra Bowen conceded today in the Congressional primary, after updated election returns showed her falling 750 votes behind Republican Craig Huey for the second spot in the July 12 runoff.
In a statement, Bowen said she would not endorse her Democratic opponent, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who finished first.
"As Secretary of State, I have always implemented a strict policy of not endorsing candidates to avoid even a perception of conflict, and I will continue that policy," she said.
The non-endorsement is indeed consistent with Bowen's long-held policy. But after a tough race -- in which Hahn baited Marcy Winograd into the campaign to split Bowen's base of support, and then attacked Bowen in the closing days for accepting oil money -- it could be read as a sign of lingering division within the Democratic Party.
On election night, some of Bowen's supporters said they would not work for Hahn or put her signs on their front yards.
The state Democratic Party issued a call for solidarity on Thursday, urging supporters of Bowen and Marcy Winograd to "unite behind the Democratic nominee."
"Democrats are gonna work hard to elect a Democrat in the 36th," said Tenoch Flores, a party spokesman.
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Hahn reached out to Bowen's supporters with a conciliatory statement issued Thursday afternoon.
"I want to thank Secretary of State Debra Bowen for running a good and tough campaign," she said. "Together, we put a bright spotlight on the need to focus our nation's attention on jobs and the economy, healthcare, and protecting our environment. The voters have spoken, and it's clear that they agreed with our message."
In a follow-up statement, campaign manager Dave Jacobson said that Hahn "respects Secretary of State Debra Bowen's longstanding position to remain neutral in state campaigns."
Bowen's strategist, Steve Barkan, said in an e-mail that Bowen's non-endorsement is "not news." "She doesn't endorse anybody in any race," he said.