“It’s a smart strategy,” said Steve Barkan, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hahn’s top Democratic opponent, Debra Bowen. “In a special, it’s a lot less Democratic, just based on turnout. I think it’s smart. You run to the broadest audience on TV and then you target your mail.”
Less surprising is the absence of the word “Republican” in Huey’s most recent ad, in which members of the “government” take a jar of money that two small children selling lemonade have collected. It portrays him as the nonpolitician candidate, while slamming “President Obama and Congress” for running up the debt.
Hahn and Huey are competing to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D), who resigned in February and won with at least 60 percent of the vote since 2002. President Barack Obama carried the district with 64 percent in 2008.
The Huey campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Huey has kept his campaign afloat thanks to nearly $700,000 in personal loans. As of June 22, he had raised $144,000 from individuals and political action committees, spent more than $782,000 and had just more than $56,000 on hand.
Hahn has been raising and spending at a feverish pace, and as of June 22 her cash-on-hand and debt figures were nearly equal. She’s raised nearly $1.1 million, spent $774,000 and had $323,000 both on hand and in debt.
Shallman said the campaign is fully funded, and although Hahn isn’t able to write herself a big check, “we feel confident that we’re able to do all we can in this campaign.”
Hahn has an advantage in early vote tallies, according to figures provided to Roll Call by the Los Angeles County registrar’s office. Of the 38,696 Democratic vote-by-mail ballots issued, 14,195 have been returned; 30,512 Republican ballots were issued and 12,967 returned.
Eric Bauman, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, said the Hahn campaign has been spot-on in its voter target approach.
“In a low-turnout election such as this, reaching beyond the base is essential for success,” Bauman said. “While Hahn talks to independents, the Democratic Party is touching and connecting with the base to increase awareness and drive up voter participation by both mail and poll voters.”
Looking forward, Behr, who said he has not spoken with the Hahn campaign, said Hahn’s team may have an eye on the redistricting process as it tries to project her as a common-sense candidate, rather than only a Democratic one.
“If you look at the potential redistricting maps, there are some scenarios where her district gets much tougher,” Behr said. “So if that’s in the back of their minds, that may affect how they’re looking at it.”