Calif. Democratic Party Fails to Endorse in 36th District

Posted April 3, 2011 at 1:28pm

Updated: 4:16 p.m.

A majority of California Democratic Party delegates who voted in an endorsement caucus Saturday supported Janice Hahn for the 36th district special election, but the Los Angeles City Councilwoman did not win enough votes to claim the party mantle.

Hahn secured 57 percent of the vote, according to her campaign, falling short of the 60 percent necessary to win the state party’s endorsement. Her top opponent, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, also sought the nomination, and Politico reported that Bowen took more than 39 percent of the vote.

“This majority vote is a game changer in this campaign, and it sends a strong message that I am the choice for Democrats,” Hahn said in a statement.

The day before the vote, Hahn’s campaign presented her as the only true Democrat in the race, hinting in a press release Friday about the Republican past of Bowen, who has become a darling of the left.

Bowen has long been open about being a Republican until 1984.

“The Party was clearly divided in the vote today and I’m proud of the support that I received from my fellow Democrats,” she said in a statement after Saturday’s vote. She also thanked Howard Dean, the California League of Conservation Voters and Equality California Political Action Committee for their recent endorsements.

Sixteen candidates have been certified in the May 17 open primary to succeed Democratic Rep. Jane Harman. Unless a candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a July 12 runoff to determine the special election winner.

The district leans Democratic enough that neither national party is expected to expend any resources on the race.

For more from our At the Races politics blog, click here.

Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.