California special election candidate Janice Hahn (left) gets a stern warning against campaigning at the farmers market. Hahn, a Democrat running in the 36th district, was strolling through with the towns mayor pro tem, who had just endorsed her.
State GOP Chairman Ron Nehring has already convened a meeting of local leaders and potential candidates, and he told Roll Call he is “preparing party infrastructure to be made available to the eventual Republican nominee.”
Redondo Beach City Attorney Michael Webb, a career prosecutor and father of six, is so far the lone Republican in the race. Webb was resting a fatigued voice box when he met with Roll Call on Friday at a Starbucks across the street from City Hall, as he juggles his day job with campaigning and family time in the evenings.
Webb said his top goal is to protect prominent area institutions, including an Air Force base, Los Angeles International Airport, the Port of Los Angeles, and defense and aerospace industry companies.
Webb conceded that Democrats hold a nearly 20-point edge in registered voters in the district but said there is an opportunity for a Republican to win. He cited the district’s Republican vote in the 2006 gubernatorial race, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected.
His chances rest partly on the insufficiency of the Democrats, he said, noting they “are clearly much more liberal than Harman, a nine-term Member who was a Blue Dog and strong on defense, and represented the district better than any of the three now running could.”
The district, connected by Interstate 405, has distinct issues that vary with each exit on the highway. Manhattan Beach, off the crowded Rosecrans Avenue exit, is what an outsider might picture a California beach town to look like.
Sprinkled with solar-powered parking meters and home to Sketchers shoes and half of the Los Angeles Lakers, the beach community has a balanced budget and is one of only a couple of California cities with a AAA bond rating.
Home of the Rose Bowl of beach volleyball tournaments, the most pressing issue in Manhattan Beach, which was named after the New York borough, is traffic congestion on the 405.
“We need federal help because California can’t afford to give us anything,” said Mayor Richard Montgomery (R), who endorsed Hahn and Harman before that.
Montgomery isn’t looking at party labels, he said as he walked along the city’s picturesque pier, gesturing to the dozens of volleyball nets on the beach below.
Hahn has angled to position herself as the frontrunner and is working to do something no one in her politically successful family has done.
Her father, Kenneth Hahn, served on the LA County Board of Supervisors for 40 years and helped bring the Dodgers to California from Brooklyn. Her brother, James Hahn, is the only person ever to serve as LA mayor, city controller and city attorney.
Hahn, not yet a member of the city council, lost her 1998 bid when it was a more Republican-friendly district. She lost her bid last year for lieutenant governor, but this time she has strong establishment backing and is prepared to spend close to $1 million.
“I’m working to get in the runoff,” Hahn said. “I’d really like to win the whole thing outright [in the primary], but I think with more candidates jumping in that will be more difficult.”