Can a Tea Party Republican Win a House Race in Los Angeles?
This is one of the better overview’s of California’s special election today that I’ve seen.
In California’s 36th Congressional District, where I often ride my bicycle alongside the ocean, a Tuesday special election pits a liberal Los Angeles city councilwoman, Democrat Janice Hahn, against a tea-party-backed businessman, Republican Craig Huey. If the typical residents of the communities they’re vying to represent paid more attention to off-year elections held in the summertime, they might be upset by their choices. Instead they’re focused on outdoor grilling, gas prices, and the impending closure of the 405 Freeway, known locally as “The Carpocalypse” or “Carmageddon.” All are more pressing matters than serving as civic guinea pigs.
That’s what voters in the race are, thanks to Democrat Jane Harman. She held the seat for 10 years, successfully defended it during the 2010 midterms, and resigned shortly afterward to take a job as director of the Washington, D.C.,-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Due to the off-year vacancy, voters in the 36th became first to try California’s new open primary system. It calls for all candidates to appear on the same ballot, and permits voters to cast a ballot for whomever they want. Unless someone wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff, even if they’re both from the same political party.