Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

News that Democratic Rep. Jane Harman will give up her 36th Congressional District seat to become president of a Washington think tank sparked speculation over who will run for the Los Angeles County coastal district she has held for much of the last two decades.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn didn't waste any time jumping in the race. The San Pedro Democrat announced her bid with an afternoon press release and is up and running with a revamped version of the website from her failed lieutenant governor campaign.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat who represented an overlapping state legislative district for more than a decade, is "very, very seriously considering" a run of her own.

California Democratic Party Chair John Burton added fuel to the Bowen candidacy chatter, calling the elections chief the "only candidate that has officially informed the California Democratic Party that they are running in the 36th congressional district" in an e-mail blast late yesterday.

And Harman's past Democratic primary challenger Marcy Winograd, whose liberal backing and anti-war stance helped her win nearly 40 percent of the vote in the 2010 primary, told POLITICO she is also thinking about another run.

Mattie Fein, the Republican who ran against Harman in November, couldn't be reached for comment Monday, though California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring's Twitter stream suggests the party will make a hard run at the seat

As for who won't throw a hat in the ring? Former Democratic Assemblyman Ted Lieu, the front-runner in next week's 28th Senate District special election, blasted out a statement dismissing chatter he could seek a ticket to Congress next.

"I am not nor will I be running for the seat," Lieu said. "I am focused one hundred and ten percent on turning out voters for next Tuesday's special election for State Senate and getting to work as soon as possible on balancing California's budget and creating jobs."

Controller John Chiang, who, like Bowen, is termed out in 2014 and lives in the district was mentioned as a possible contender. But his consultant tells Capitol Alert that it doesn't look like the Torrance Democrat will run for the seat.

Budget hearings are scheduled to consider under the dome today, though legislators from both parties will spend at least part of the day off-site at their respective policy summits.

The Republican caucuses in both houses kick off a joint, two-day policy summit at the California Farm Bureau's headquarters. Gov. Jerry Brown, former Schwarzenegger Finance Director Mike Genest and longtime Assembly GOP budget consultant Peter Schaafsma are expected to address the lawmakers.

Assembly Democrats are also scheduled to meet for an off-site session to discuss the budget and other policy matters ahead, though a location and speaker line-up had not been announced late Monday.


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