With all the precincts counted, L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn has defeated Republican Craig Huey by 9 points in the special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman. Despite the Tea Party energy — and all the lawn signs — in support of Huey, he was unable to overcome the huge Democratic advantage in the 36th Congressional District.
That's not to say that her campaign took the runoff for granted. But Huey was her preferred opponent and tonight it's clear why.
After the primary, the challenge for Hahn was keeping Democrats interested and reminding them there was still an election. To that end, the “most offensive political ad of all time” was something of a godsend. Hahn also worked to define Huey — accurately — as a Tea Party extremist, whose views were way out of step with the liberal district.
Despite Hahn's advantages in party registration and fundraising, there was palpable concern among Democrats that she would find a way to lose. In Huey, she faced a wealthy opponent who was willing to spend freely to get his message out.
Though Republicans hoped for a Scott Brown-style upset, Hahn's campaign never took its foot off the gas. It also didn't hesitate to play rough. In the closing days, there was a particularly unsavory episode involving an allegation that Huey had failed to pay $6,000 worth of child support. Huey disputes that, and his campaign called it a last-minute smear, which it was. Mostly what it showed was how seriously Democrats were taking Huey's challenge.
So it was ugly, but Hahn got it done. She won't have the luxury of guaranteed tenure, however, because her district will likely be redrawn to include the conservative Palos Verdes Peninsula. That just happens to be where Huey lives, and he may well give it another try.
In the meantime, political junkies will have to be content with the race to replace Hahn on the L.A. City Council. Wasting no time, Pat McOsker — president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City — made his candidacy official, and announced that he has hired Hahn's campaign team. Other candidates expected to run include Assemblyman Warren Furutani and former Councilman Rudy Svorinich.