CA-36: Harman Primary Is Underway
So I'm quoted in this Politico article about potential primary challenges to Jane Harman. I've said clearly that she'll either face a primary or drop out, and now multiple challengers, including 2006 opponent Marcy Winograd, have stepped up. One thing that people don't totally remember about that 2006 challenge is that Marcy got in the race in February for a June primary. She ended up raising and spending about $380,000, but she did not have time for a national fundraising base or a netroots strategy. She basically just went ahead and ran, and she got 38% of the vote. Starting the primary a year out this time will simply yield better results.
The other part, which Alex Eisenstadt acknowledges, is that Harman was a target long before the recent revelation of wiretapped conservations between her and suspected Israeli agents offering vague quid pro quo deals on getting some AIPAC members out of legal trouble.
It’s true that Harman holds a firm grip on her comfortably Democratic district, having won 69 percent in the 2008 general election.
Still, her left flank remains exposed in large part because of her hawkish, pro-military reputation. After Sept. 11, 2001, Harman was an early advocate for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, and she threw her support behind the American-led invasion of Iraq. She went so far as to criticize the FBI and the CIA for moving too slowly to respond to terrorist threats.
Those stances continue to rankle local progressives, and the recent controversy has only revived the frustrations that seemed to crest in 2006 with Winograd’s challenge. Last week, Winograd organized a protest outside Harman’s district headquarters, with activists calling on the California Democrat to resign. The environmental organization Greenpeace is coordinating a mailing in the district pressuring Harman, who has a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, on energy issues.
David Dayen, a California activist who writes for the liberal blog Calitics, said he expects progressive organizations to ramp up their efforts against Harman in the weeks ahead.
“I don’t get the sense that in May, the year before this primary is happening, there is going to be a lot of clamoring over Harman, but I do think you’re starting to see progressive groups get involved,” said Dayen.
I reject the theory later in the piece that CA-36 is a moderate district. The PVI is D+12, and the formerly conservative areas have moderated their views. Torrance, the supposed "Orange County of LA County," just elected two Democrats to its City Council. What's more, Harman votes substantially to the right of the district and has for years.
Winograd will be holding a campaign kickoff on Monday at the Venice Pier around 4:00pm, so she's obviously serious about making this run again. And she'll be taking questions in a liveblog session at Firedoglake today at 11am. John Amato of Crooks and Liars fame may also make a run at this seat.