Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

The crowded primary contest for the vacant 36th Congressional District seat comes to an end today.

Sixteen candidates are running to replace retired Democratic Rep. Jane Harman in the coastal Los Angeles district.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Secretary of State Debra Bowen, both Democrats, are considered the front-runners in the Democratic-leaning district and have spent the final stretch of the campaign pummeling each other with negative attacks. But the lengthy ballot and dynamics of the new top two primary system add an air of unpredictability to the stand-alone special election.

The South Bay primary brawl has attracted a ton of cash (one Republican gave himself a $500,000 loan) and endorsement cameos from the likes of former GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner GOP Rep. Tom McClintock and even "Rudy" star Sean Astin. Voters also have a familiar face with anti-war activist and teacher Marcy Winograd, a two-time Democratic primary challenger to Harman.

If no candidate crosses the 50 percent threshold in today's all-party primary election, the top two vote-getters -- regardless of party -- advance to a July 12 special. Top finishes by Bowen and Hahn would result in the the first same-party runoff since Proposition 14 took effect in January.

Early results will be posted at the Secretary of State website shortly after the polls close at 8 p.m.

HEARINGS: Back under the dome, the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. to look at how well the state's energy efficiency strategy is working. Over in the Assembly, the Elections and Redistricting Committee takes up several proposed changes to the initiative system at 1:30 p.m. and the Aging and Long-term Care Committee holds an oversight hearing on community-based programs at 2 p.m.

NEW JOBS: Former Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Garden Grove, has landed a job at Newmeyer & Dillon, LLP, a business and real estate law firm with offices in Newport Beach and Walnut Creek. Tran, who lost a November bid for Congress, will handle civil litigation, contracts, corporate and administrative law clients as an "of counsel" attorney with the firm.

Equality California, the state's leading LGBT-rights advocacy group, has hired Roland Palencia to fill the organization's vacant executive director post. Palencia, who founded Latino LGBT group Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos, starts July 5.

BIRTHDAY: Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, turns 57 today.


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