Jane Harman, congressional representative for Venice and the 36th district, has abandoned her position, effective Feb. 28. Gov. Jerry Brown was expected to announce a special election to replace her. The election will likely be held on June 7, in conjunction with several budget initiative that will be on the ballot.
At least three Venice candidates have said they will file for the election. They are Debra Bowen, Maria E. Montaño and Paul Whitehead. Also running are South Bay candidates Janice Hahn and Mike Webb and Santa Monica resident Marcy Winograd.
Debra Bowen is the current California Secretary of State. Her campaign material says she lives in Marina del Rey, however, she actually lives in the Oxford Triangle, which is part of Venice. Bowen and Hahn are considered to be the leading Democrats in the race. Both, at Hahn’s urging, have signed a “Support for Israel” statement which includes support for a $3 billion security aid program, opposition to a Palestinian state unless sanctioned by Israel, hostility toward Iran, and opposition to anti-Israel speech. The last item is apparently aimed at Marcy Winograd who ran against Harman in 2010 and was critical of unqualified support for Israel. It may have prompted Winograd to get into the race on Feb. 26.
The entry of Winograd would be welcomed by Hahn since Bowen and Winograd would likely split the progressive Democratic vote, leaving Hahn a clear field with the supporters of Jane Harman.
Maria E. Montaño is the Peace and Freedom candidate. She is a nearly life-long resident of Venice and daughter of immigrant parents who become a Doctor in Education. Montaño is a former state commissioner of parks and recreation and a former commissioner of education for LAUSD. She is currently a national certified teacher who works in the L.A. Unified School District.
Paul Whitehead has run as a Republican for Assembly and Congress. However, he has now switched parties and will run as a Democrat.
Janice Hahn is a Los Angeles city council member who has been endorsed by several mainstream Democratic officeholders, including Ted Lieu and Bill Rosendahl. She and Bowen are top contenders for the job. The two women also have in common that each will soon be termed out of her current office. Hence the attempted jump to Congress.
Mike Webb is a Redondo Beach Republican attorney and likely the first of several Republicans to jump into the race. Before the next regular election in 2012, the district will be reapportioned, perhaps splitting off the heavily Democratic northern section, including Venice. This would leave a new South Bay district that would be friendlier to Republicans seeking to get elected.
Harman’s Surprise Departure
An unsolved mystery is why Jane Harman has abandoned Congress only three months after getting reelected. She has been a leader of the conservative “blue dog” caucus in the Democratic Party, and a member of the Trilateral Commission. What prompted her to take a non-political job with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation instead of finishing her term in Congress?
In 2006, Time Magazine reported on a year-long Justice Department and FBI investigation of Harman’s connection with Israeli agents and the Israel lobbying organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The magazine stated that the Justice Dept. was looking into whether Harman had enlisted foreign help in her campaign to chair the House Intelligence Committee.
In 2009, tapes were released that purported to have recorded a conversation between Harman and an “Israeli agent.” according to the Jewish Standard, “The “agent” asked Harman to intervene in the case of two former AIPAC staffers who had been charged with handling classified information.
Harman agreed to “waddle” into the matter, “if you think it will make a difference,” according to the reports. The “agent” then said he would advocate on her behalf to keep Harman in her spot as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. Harman said, “This conversation doesn’t exist” and hung up.
Dean Boyd, a spokesperson at the Justice Department, had “no comment” on the current state of the investigation.