Dueling polls show race to succeed Jane Harman a likely dead heat

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Separate polls released Tuesday indicate the as-yet-unofficial contest to replace retiring Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) could be a neck-and-neck race between two prominent Democratic women — California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

One poll, commissioned by the Democrat-leaning Progressive Change Campaign Committee in Washington, showed Bowen ahead by four points. The other, done by Hahn’s campaign polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, put the councilwoman up by five points. Both polls have margins of error of about four points in either direction, making the race a statistical dead heat.

Hahn’s poll was taken while her campaign was phoning voters with recorded messages from Hahn inviting them to meet her at a series of farmers’ markets last week. She got an early start, launching her campaign within hours of Harman’s saying she would leave Congress to lead a Washington think tank. Hahn quickly lined up endorsements from area officeholders and labor and environmental groups before Bowen got into the race last week.

Campaigns typically use favorable results of polls, whether their own or others’, to gin up support and raise money.


Several other, lesser-known candidates have said they’re running, including Redondo Beach City Atty. Mike Webb, the first Republican to get into the race in this largely coastal, strongly Democratic 36th Congressional District.

Bowen, of Marina del Rey, represented much of the Venice-to-San Pedro district during her 14 years in the state Legislature. Hahn, whose district includes San Pedro and other parts of Los Angeles, ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 1998, when the district was more evenly balanced between Democrats and Republicans, and narrowly lost to GOP Assemblyman Steve Kuykendall, then from Rancho Palos Verdes.

The governor cannot call a special election to replace Harman until her seat becomes vacant. She has said she plans to leave on Feb. 28.

-- Jean Merl