Marcy Winograd will kick off her congressional campaign today, billing herself as the “true progressive” in a race that also includes liberal L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn and liberal Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Winograd's entry into the race is bad news for Bowen, as she could split the Westside progressive vote and hand the seat to Hahn. That's surely what Hahn was counting on last week, when she got Bowen to sign a pro-Israel pledge. The pledge cleverly included criticism of Winograd, so by signing it, Bowen lost her chance to get Winograd's backing.

In an interview on Friday, Winograd said the pledge was a significant factor in her decision to run.

“What I take away from that pledge is a sense that anyone who signs it is

going to be reticent to take a leadership role in Congress on any

highly charged issue,” she said.

Winograd moved last year to a home in Santa Monica that is about a half-mile outside the 36th Congressional District. She said she would not move back to the district, noting that the law requires only that she live in California.

Winograd also said she plans to run to help bring an end to the wars in the Middle East. Bowen has said much the same thing, vowing to campaign against the war in Afghanistan.

Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen

Asked if she was worried about playing a spoiler role for Bowen, Winograd said she likes Bowen and would like to see her continue as Secretary of State.

“I have great respect for Debra Bowen,” she said. “I'm glad to see she is taking more of a leadership role on getting out of Afghanistan. That's good. I think my entering the race plays a role in shaping the debate.”

Winograd ran twice against Rep. Jane Harman, most recently earning 41% of the vote in the 2010 Democratic primary.

Her decision to run this time around is reminiscent of her decision in 2010, in that both had a lot to do with Israel. In 2009, Harman was accused of a bizarre quid pro quo that involved the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the CIA, and the leak of a wiretapped phone call. The story barely made sense and fizzled out, but it prompted Winograd to get into the race.

In that campaign, Rep. Henry Waxman denounced some comments that Winograd had made about West Bank settlements. Winograd, who is Jewish, had said she did not want her tax dollars to support “occupation or extermination.” It was those comments, along with some others, that Hahn also denounced in her pledge.

The Weekly called AIPAC spokesman Ari Goldberg to ask for his organization's views on Winograd's announcement and on the role of Israel in the campaign. Goldberg responded with the following (hilarious) voicemail message: “On background and not for attribution, we have no comment on that race.”

(The Weekly did not consent to leave Goldberg's “no comment” on background.)

LA Weekly