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One of the biggest prizes in the 36th Congressional District endorsement wars will go unclaimed.

None of the five Democrats running for the vacant congressional seat in next month's special primary election will be able to tout the official backing of the California Democratic Party.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn was the top vote-getter in the party's weekend endorsement meeting with 65 votes, according to party spokesman Tenoch Flores, or 57 percent of participating delegates living in the district. But she fell short of the 60 percent threshold to trigger a primary endorsement.

Hahn declared victory, calling the majority vote a "game changer in this campaign" that "sends a strong message that I am the choice for Democrats."

Her main rival in the Democratic-leaning district , Secretary of State Debra Bowen, won 40 percent with a total of 46 votes, according to Flores. She said in a statement that the results showed "the Party was clearly divided in the vote today."

Liberal activist Marcy Winograd, who has twice run in a primary for the seat, received two votes out of the 114 cast. The remaining vote recommended no endorsement of any candidate, which left the two other Democrats on the ballot without any votes.

Hahn and Bowen have been actively publicizing high-profile endorsements in what is expected to be a low turnout race to replace Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, who stepped down in February.

Hahn has touted support from labor unions, including Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and AFSCME California, as well as local elected officials and members of Congress and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Bowen's backers include former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Equality California and California League of Conservation Voters.

A total of 16 candidates are running in the May 17 special primary election in the coastal Los Angeles County district. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters compete in a runoff election on July 12.

Editor note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Organizing for America endorsed Bowen. The organization was Democracy for America.


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