Huey might cause California political earthquake

There is remarkably little buzz in Washington, D.C., surrounding the California congressional special election to replace Jane Harman, and one has to wonder whether that is because Craig Huey shocked the political establishment by winning the second slot in the runoff election.

This race was supposed to come down to two Democratic Party liberals fighting over what was once a Republican congressional seat, but Huey messed things up by clawing his way into second place in the primary election.

Now the July 12 election will determine whether Huey, a businessman who enjoys support from both evangelicals and some Jewish leaders, can successfully translate economic angst amongst this Los Angeles coastal district into votes against the heavily favored Democratic establishment candidate.

Ironically, the Democrat, entrenched politician Janice Hahn, who has made a living off of her dad’s legacy in Los Angeles County, has taken to the extremely expensive Los Angeles television airwaves to denounce her opponent’s use of direct mail to communicate with the voters in the district.

Having grown up in southern California politics, and having run campaigns in L.A. County, I can attest that direct mail is the ONLY truly effective way to reach voters in this media market. In fact, if Hahn’s consultants are urging her to spend money on television attacking the direct mail message delivery vehicle, they must be getting increasingly desperate that the Huey message is resonating with voters.

This race is particularly significant, because the district has 44,000 Jewish voters who have traditionally been core Democratic supporters. Even though Hahn is Jewish, polling shows a significant softening of Jewish support for the Democratic Party due to President Obama’s decision to effectively abandon his party’s traditional pro-Israel stance.

In fact, the Hahn campaign must have really been ecstatic over the president’s recent decision to declare Israel as a terrorist state.

District voters are also increasingly disgusted by California Democrats’ constant demand to increase their taxes while extending government benefits to other constituencies. With the bad taste of the state budget battle still fresh in their mouths, this special election lines up perfectly for the candidate who is not a politician — Craig Huey.

While many in D.C. look at the district as being solidly Democrat, it has been represented by Republican Steve Kuykendall, who defeated the same Janice Hahn in 1998, when Harman gave up the seat to run for governor.

While Democrats enjoy a considerable registration advantage in the district, the relatively high-income Republicans are far more likely to vote in this low-turnout special election.

With less than one week to go before the election, Craig Huey just might be preparing his second shock to the political system in the past two months. After all, California is known for earthquakes, and a Huey victory would be one that would be felt across the country.


Rick Manning is the communications director for Americans for Limited Government.