Democrats now 2-for-2 in spe­cial elec­tions af­ter Calif. win

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

The score af­ter two 2011 spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tions: Democrats 2, Repub­li­cans 0.

Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat Jan­ice Hahn won the July 12 elec­tion to re­place re­tir­ing Rep. Jane Har­man in a coastal Los An­ge­les County district, de­feat­ing Repub­li­can busi­ness­man Craig Huey by a mar­gin of 54 per­cent to 45 per­cent.

Any other out­come would have been con­sid­ered an up­set in a district where Democrats en­joy an 18 per­cent­age point voter-reg­is­tra­tion ad­van­tage and which Pres­i­dent Obama won by 30 per­cent­age points in 2008. Mrs. Har­man, a Demo­crat, had held the seat since 2001 be­fore she stepped down to head the Woodrow Wil­son In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter for Schol­ars.

Still Mr. Huey, 61, a po­lit­i­cal new­comer backed by the tea party, ran a closer-than-ex­pected race against the well-con­nected Mrs. Hahn, who has served for a decade on the Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil.

The race might be best re­mem­bered for an in­de­pen­dently pro­duced “rap” video that ac­cused Mrs. Hahn of be­ing soft on gangs, por­tray­ing her as a poledancer giv­ing dol­lar bills to gang mem­bers. The video was widely de­nounced as racist, in­clud­ing by Mr. Huey.

How­ever, Repub­li­cans have a chance to even the score with two more spe­cial elec­tions, both sched­uled for Sept. 13.

In Ne­vada, vot­ers will choose a suc­ces­sor to Repub­li­can Rep. Dean Heller, who was ap­pointed by the gov­er­nor to re­place Sen. John En­sign. Mr. En­sign, a Repub­li­can, re­signed in May amid an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of his ef­forts to cover up an af­fair the wife of a top aide.

Repub­li­can Mark Amodei, a for­mer state sen­a­tor, will face state Trea­surer Kate Mar­shall. Mr. Amodei is run­ning on a lim­ited-gov­ern­ment, Ne­vada-first plat­form, while Ms. Mar­shall is run­ning an anti-Wash­ing­ton video that doesn’t men­tion her party af­fil­i­a­tion.

There’s a rea­son for that: No Demo­crat has been elected in the 30-year his­tory of Ne­vada’s 2nd Con­gres­sional District, which en­com­passes the whole state mi­nus the Las Ve­gas area.

A win by Ms. Mar­shall would con­sti­tute the most stun­ning Demo­cratic spe­cial-elec­tion up­set since March, when Demo­crat Kathy Hochul won a three-way race for a New York seat that Repub­li­cans had held since 1970. Las Ve­gas po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Jon Ral­ston called Ms. Mar­shall’s chances of suc­cess “not likely,” adding that her best shot would be to em­u­late Ms. Hochul’s Medi­care strat­egy.

“This is a very tough race for the Democrats, who have never won in this district,” said Mr. Ral­ston in his July 11 Las Ve­gas Sun col­umn. “Mar­shall will need to run a Medis­care cam­paign and hope any base dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Amodei be­cause of his in­ter­mit­tently con­tro­ver­sial leg­isla­tive record min­i­mizes GOP turnout.”

The sec­ond Sept. 13 spe­cial elec­tion will be back in New York, where two can­di­dates will vie to re­place Rep. An­thony D. Weiner, the Demo­crat who stepped down in June amid a scan­dal about his ex­plicit texts and pho­tos to young women.

Repub­li­can Bob Turner, a re­tired movie ex­ec­u­tive who ran against Mr. Weiner in 2010, will square off against Demo­cratic As­sem­bly­man David Weprin in a race viewed as the Democrats’ to lose. Still, there are signs of hope for Repub­li­cans: Mr. Turner took 40 per­cent of the vote in his 2010 bid, a sur­pris­ingly strong show­ing in the safe Demo­cratic district.

The spe­cial elec­tion may hinge on Jewish vot­ers, a re­li­able Demo­cratic vot­ing bloc that has been in­creas­ingly un­easy with Pres­i­dent Obama’s poli­cies to­ward Is­rael, ac­cord­ing to re­cent polling.

For­mer New York Mayor Ed Koch re­cently urged Jewish vot­ers to send “a shot across Obama’s bow” by sup­port­ing Mr. Turner, ac­cord­ing to the Jewish Week news­pa­per.

“If Jewish New York­ers and oth­ers who sup­port Is­rael were to turn away from the Demo­cratic Party in that con­gres­sional elec­tion and elect the Repub­li­can can­di­date to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause Pres­i­dent Obama to change his hos­tile po­si­tion on the state of Is­rael,” Mr. Koch wrote in his weekly email com­men­tary.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil mem­ber Jan­ice Hahn is all smiles at her elec­tion night par ty July 12 at a restau­rant in San Pe­dro. She is the sec­ond Demo­crat this year to win a spe­cial elec­tion for a seat in Congress. She re­ceived 54 per­cent of the vote.

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