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    California had just made a fundamental change to its election process, switching to a so-called “jungle primary.” Instead of competing in separate party primaries, all candidates would compete in one “open” primary election. The dynamic seemed promising for Republicans, despite the fact that Democrats hold a 45 to 28.5 percent edge in registered party voters in the 36th District, which stretches north from San Pedro, through Torrance, the beach cities, Mar Vista, and part of Venice.

    The notion was that Bowen and Hahn, and to a lesser degree Winograd, would split the Democratic vote in the May 17 primary and create an opening for a Republican to finish in the top two and then compete in a runoff election in July.

    Webb clearly hoped that by quickly jumping in the race Republicans would rally around him. He had family roots in San Pedro, popularity in Redondo Beach, and the support (and statewide database) of powerful L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley.

    But other local Republicans entered the field. Hermosa Beach Councilman Kit Bobko, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, and Rancho Palos Verdes businessman Craig Huey all joined the fray in the weeks after Harman’s resignation. By the time all was said and done, a field of 16 candidates was running for Congress: two more Democrats, teacher Loraine Goodwin and entrepreneur Daniel Adler; another Republican, businessman Stephen Eisele; Libertarian Steve Collett; Peace and Freedom Party candidate Maria Montano; and three candidates with no party preference, Katherine Pilot, Matthew Roozee, and Michael Chamness.

    It is a race unlike any the South Bay has seen before. As Republican pollster Steven Kinney said in an interview this week, “This has kind of become a free for all.”

    Further complicating matters are two more factors: whoever wins will have the least seniority in all of Congress and will hold the seat only months before having to gear up for a reelection campaign in what will quite possibly be a vastly reconfigured district. The state is in the process of its first major redistricting effort in two decades, and District 36 – with a strange contour that cuts out most of the more conservative Palos Verdes Peninsula – is expected to be one of the areas significantly altered.

    In Kenosha, Wis., earlier in the week, Rep. Paul Ryan architect of the House GOP budget plan exited through a back door to stymie protesters gathering out front.

    by anyname on Fri May 06, 2011 at 11:04:32 AM PDT

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