Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn will face conservative businessman Craig Huey in a July runoff for former Rep. Jane Harman's congressional seat after Secretary of State Debra Bowen, unable to elbow Huey out in final ballots, conceded Thursday.
With all but a handful of ballots from Tuesday's primary counted, Bowen trailed Huey by 750 votes in an upset that is likely to draw party resources — and more national attention — to the race. Politics watchers had expected a second-round contest between Hahn and Bowen, both Democrats. It would have been the first runoff between two members of the same party under California's new elections system.
Huey was one of six Republicans on the ballot in the strongly Democratic 36th Congressional District, based in the South Bay. He poured $500,000 of his own money into a campaign blitz to highlight his "cut spending, grow jobs" message.
By Thursday afternoon, Hahn had 15,607 votes to Huey's 14,096 and Bowen's 13,346. There were 13 other candidates in the race, making it improbable that anyone could have mustered the majority needed to avoid a runoff.
In her concession statement, Bowen thanked supporters and congratulated Hahn and Huey. She added that her long-standing policy as the state's top elections officer would prevent her from endorsing one of them.
Huey said his upset showed that the "district does not belong to any one party or political machine." Hahn said she looked forward to discussing her policy differences with Huey.