Politics

Voters go to the polls in 36th Congressional District special election

Janice Hahn (L) and Craig Huey (R) are vying for California's 36th district congressional seat.
Janice Hahn (L) and Craig Huey (R) are vying for California's 36th district congressional seat.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images & CraigHuey.com

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Voters go to the polls in a special election today to fill the South Bay congressional seat once held by Jane Harman. They'll be choosing between Democrat Janice Hahn and Republican Craig Huey. About 40,000 mail-in ballots already have been received. Polls are open until 8 tonight.

Republicans are hoping for an upset in a district where Democrats have an 18 point voter registration advantage over the GOP. Their candidate, longtime Republican activist and marketing consultant Huey, has spent more than three-quarters of a million dollars of his own money to beat Hahn. They debated last week on KPCC's AirTalk.

Hahn is a Los Angeles city councilwoman and the sister of Former L.A. Mayor Jim Hahn. A cranky electorate that’s upset over the bad economy and an expected low voter turnout have added uncertainty to the outcome of the special election. So has the growing number of independent voters – now 22 percent in this district that stretches from Venice along the coast to San Pedro.

Huey, who is 61 years old, wasn’t expected to be in the runoff, but the vote count in a crowded primary left him second to Hahn. She enjoys the backing of labor unions and the Democratic group Organizing for America, which appealed to supporters to make thousands of phone calls on Hahn’s behalf in the final frantic days of the campaign.