Beltway Jane Versus the Renegade

Random Lengths News | June 8, 2006
The campaign to oust Jane Harman from the 36th Congressional seat by Marcy Winograd in the Democratic primary was a campaign straight from the heart of California politics. The 36th District hugs the coast from Venice in the north down to the border of Palos Verdes Estates and makes a right angle turn towards the Harbor communities of San Pedro and Wilmington, it is considered one of the “safe districts” for the Dems, one of many.

However for the last three months, a very short time to launch a serious campaign, Winograd the renegade democrat with a progressive anti-Bush agenda went from zero to a significant 37.5 percent loss that shook Harman’s pro-war confidence. Belt-way Jane actually had to show up in the district and fight it out with the party’s grassroots progressives, This was good. The problem Winograd faced was that far too many disaffected left-wingers, who are her natural constituency, have bailed on the Democratic party out of disgust for Harman and other accomodationists, and were never reregistered for this campaign. Still, Harman had to out spend Winograd three to one.

This is both the weakness and the strength of party specific (closed) primaries. In an open primary, Republicans can vote for or against Democrats and vice versa allowing for the corruption of party ideologies so that it does not matter what or if the parties stand for anything. The contemporary problem is that on a national level the differences between the two major parties has become so diminished and so corrupted by corporate and lobbyist campaign financing that the average citizen believes that our national symbol, the Bald Eagle, now has two right wings––the left wing having been thoroughly plucked politically. The corporate raiders of the American ark are now busily plucking the rest of the political bird and stuffing it for consumption at a Thanksgiving-like engorgement where the Indian casinos are robbed, the Puritans are disgraced and the average citizen left wondering why there is so little left in the pot after the national treasury has been looted. There is good reason for voter apathy, but it should have been outrage.

It seems like an interesting coincidence that the historically low voter turnout, 31 percent roughly equates to Bush’s terminally low poll ratings. Yes people are depressed and with everything that has gone wrong in the last six years, rightly so.

The thing about low turnout elections is that those who do show up tend to be the party loyalists, those who vote in nearly every election and hew to a firm party affiliation. They more than likely are a majority of either party that is financially secure and fiscally hesitant in raising taxes which is why both state propositions failed. Looking at the winners and losers statewide shows this hardcore of party loyalists even amongst the most contested elections generally. The Harman versus Winograd contest was no different except that the challenger’s 37.5 percent vote suggests that things are in a state of flux in the 36th Congressional district and that Harman’s “safe seat” may no longer be safe within her own party.

If Jane Harman is actually listening, which remains to be seen, then a divergent path needs to be taken between now and the next primary or even better before November. Winograd’s call, heralding impeachment for George Bush, has a resounding significance in as much as her percentage of approval within the district is greater than Bush’s abysmal poll percentages nationally. Jane, either wake up to the fact that your district is changing or go back and work for the Department of Defense!

Oh if only things were only this interesting in the 46th district on the Palos Verdes Peninsula we might actually rid ourselves of Republican Dana Rohrabacher, but the most that we may hope for is that he’ll do it to himself with his next botched film script deal or trip to Afghanistan. Just remember democracy only works for those who actually show up.

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Founded in 1979 as a counterbalance to the conservative, corporate- owned daily paper, Random Lengths News draws on the rich history of the Los Angeles Harbor Area. The name harkens back to a description of the lumber that used to...
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