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California's 36th Congressional District up for grabs

By       Message Bob Patterson     Permalink
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When this columnist read on the Internets that Jane Harman was going to resign from her job as the Congressional representative from California's 36th Congressional District, we spent a moment wondering who would replace her and made a note to get back to that topic.   Recently while looking for a column topic we spied something written by Marcy Winograd and figured that we had the answer to our question because the school teacher has been doing well as a Democratic Party candidate trying to wrestle the office away from the incumbent.  

On February 7, 2011, Ms. Harman announced that she would be resigning from Congress to become the head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.   We learned online that Jane Margaret Lakes Harman had graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969.  

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Since we lived in that area for several decades, we figured a closer look might yield the ingredients for a good column.  

The District was created in by redistricting caused by the 1990 census and there was no incumbent in 1992.   We went to a meet and greet event for the candidates hoping to win the new seat which was held at Loyola Marymont University.   We saw the array of hopefuls.   Ms. Harmon did a credible job of presenting her case and seeming personable.  

Marcy Winograd has in two past primary seasons given the incumbent reason to campaign very hard and not take the incumbency advantage for granted.   Ms. Winograd got Gore Vidal to speak at one local rally attended by this columnist.   She too did a noteworthy job of sounding both sensible and dependable, but she now lives in Santa Monica which is outside the district (according to something Ms. Winograd posted online).

We then learned that Los Angeles City council representative Janice Hahn may seek to become the new congressional representative from the 36th Congressional District in California.   Her brother has been the mayor of L. A. and her father was a member of the L. A. County board of supervisors.   We wondered if we could do a column about the possibility that political dynasties in the USA are becoming the American version of a title in Great Britain.  

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Most Americans are aware of the big name dynasties such as the Kennedy family, the Gore family and the Bush family (which may try for a revival via JEB's bid to become the next Republican Presidential Candidate.)   How many other American Political Dynasties are in play but are not as well known.   How many voters (for example) in Berekeley CA would know (or care) about the Hahn family history down in SoCal?   How many other similar mini-dynasties are there around the USA?   Since when does a family have a right to a big name factor advantage in free elections?   And why?

We can see the potential for a book in using the topic of American Dynasties but we were only looking for a column's worth of information.

Then we learned about yet a third Democrat, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who has expressed an interest in running for that particular congressional seat.   Ms. Bowen has battled against the use of electronic voting machines.   It was beginning to look like there might be enough material for a book about the political maneuvering in just this one Congressional District   and sadly that much material in columns aimed at a national audience would tend to bore readers outside the district.

You can just bet that some Republican political strategists are paying very close attention to many facets of this complex district with a smorgasbord of voters.   The district includes portions of Venice, Marina del Rey, part of Mar Vista (it might be only a tiny sliver), Playa del Rey and (as I recall) portions of the South Bay.   There are still some hippie/beatniks living in Venice.   Marina del Rey seems to have gone a bit more Yuppie than it was in the "swinging singles" era in the Seventies.   (We knew people who were not challenged when they said they attended the famous LSD party reported in Sports Illustrated in the late Sixties.   [We never did find out why Sports Illustrated ran a trend spotting article about the fact that the baby boom generation was entering their courtship phase.])   

The South Bay is a conservative enclave with folks employed by both the Defense and   Aero Space Industries.   Don't know how they are dong in the Bush era but supposedly old voting habits die hard.

To even a causal observer the workers in the Defense and Aero Space industries seem to be the antithesis of the voters living in close proximity to Ocean Front Walk.

In a time when being well informed seems to mean that folks skim a large variety of web sites, it may be asking too much to suggest that there should be complex analysis of each and every Congressional District available online.  

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Will political junkies really read bios and synopsis of the political views of three Democratic candidates just to prepare for one local primary contest?   If you think that then please explain the success of Senate candidate Alvin Greene in South Carolina.   (Isn't he running for a new office?)

What about the Republican efforts in that District?   We'll have to research their efforts to win a seat this year and maybe have the incumbent advantage in the general elections in 2012.

While we were collecting information for a nostalgic look back at that particular Congressional District where we spent a few decades, we got the "bat-signal" from the President of the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association.   He's a long time friend and he wants some volunteer help on a local issue and so as we will answer the call and go back "on the road" to go help him.

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)

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