Conservative businessman Craig Huey, a political newcomer who invested $515,000 of his own money into what many believed was a long-shot bid for California’s heavily-Democratic 36th congressional district seat formerly held by Rep. Jane Harman, appears to have exceeded all expectations by qualifying for a July 12 runoff election with Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D-Venice).
Huey’s stunning second-place finish in the race was seen as nothing short of a major upset.
Most pundits and political observers had predicted a runoff between Hahn and Debra Bowen, California’s Secretary of State. Bowen’s failure to advance to the runoff in the South Bay congressional district came as surprise to many progressive Democrats and, they believed, was largely attributable to the presence of feisty antiwar candidate Marcy Winograd, who was waging her third bid for the seat.
A mere 206 votes separate Huey and Bowen for the second spot.
Unofficial returns posted on the Secretary of State’s web site early this morning show Janice Hahn with 13,137 votes, or 24.7 percent, to Huey’s 11,648 votes, or 21.9 percent, and Bowen’s 11,442, or 21.5 percent.
Marcy Winograd, a public school teacher, was polling 5,066 votes, or 9.5%, followed by Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin with 4,145 votes, or 7.8 percent.
There were sixteen candidates on Tuesday’s ballot.
The race to replace Harman, who resigned from Congress earlier this year to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, had been followed closely given the possibility that — under California’s controversial and recently enacted “top two” system — it would likely pit two members of the same party against each other in the July 12 runoff.