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Harman’s Departure Tees Up First Special

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California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman's retirement will create the cycle's first special election.

Republicans are hoping this district reverts back to its more competitive nature from the 1990s, but Los Angeles County GOP Chairwoman Jane Barnett said the district is a pickup opportunity now despite its Democratic lean.

"We are very excited about the fact that Jane Harman is retiring," Barnett said. "I think it's a seat we can take with the right person. Special elections are usually good for us."

One possible Republican candidate is businessman Damon Dunn, who was heavily supported by the local party in his bid for secretary of state last year.

Dunn graduated from Stanford University, where he played football and recorded one reception for the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League. If he and Bowen run, it would be their second matchup in just a few months, after she defeated Dunn by 15 points statewide in November.

Hahn will begin the race with especially high name recognition and the ability to fundraise. Klink called the Hahn name the "gold standard in Southern California," though she was unsuccessful in her bid for lieutenant governor last year.

Her late father, Kenneth Hahn, served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for 40 years and was instrumental in bringing the Dodgers baseball team to LA from Brooklyn. Her brother, James Hahn, is a former LA city attorney and served a term as mayor from 2001 to 2005.

"As someone who has served in local government for almost a decade, I want to bring that perspective and experience to Congress," Janice Hahn said in a statement.

Two local Democrats took their names out of the running Monday. Former Assemblyman Ted Lieu, who is running in Tuesday's special primary election for the vacant 28th state Senate district, announced he would not seek the seat. A spokeswoman for Assemblyman Warren Furutani, who represents southern Los Angeles, also said he would not run.

Speculation about potential candidates quickly led to Lieu, who failed in his bid for attorney general last year. The 28th district includes much of the Harman's Congressional district.

Harman told her constituents that it wasn't easy to leave Congress.

"This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress," she wrote in a letter obtained by Roll Call.

Reaction on Capitol Hill was quiet Monday, as aides and Members waited for the Woodrow Wilson Center to officially announce Harman as its new president. But behind the scenes, aides hailed Harman's prominent role on national security issues and said her presence on that issue, where Democrats have lacked a strong spokesman, will be missed.

"Harman is respected as somebody who knows these issues and does her homework," one former Democratic aide said, noting there is no heir apparent to fill that role in quite the same way.

"The feeling is that you can always put Jane Harman out there on the Sunday shows and she will talk in a way that can reassure swing voters and Americans that they are listening to someone who knows what she's talking about."

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