California: Pro-Life Huey Has a Chance to Beat Pro-Abortion Hahn

State   |   Andrew Bair   |   Jul 11, 2011   |   6:36PM   |   Washington, DC

On Tuesday, voters head to the polls in California’s 36th Congressional District where they will choose between pro-life businessman Craig Huey and pro-abortion Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

The district would appear to be an easy hold for Democrats but in initial balloting Craig Huey came within just two points of Hahn, earning him a slot in today’s special election. A Republican on the ballot at all is shocking for this overwhelmingly blue electorate. The Los Angeles Times called Huey’s ranking “a major upset” and the Huffington Post remarked that the result “confounded expectations.”

Fearing the loss of a solid pro-abortion seat in Congress, the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List jumped into action, throwing its enormous financial weight behind Hahn. To their delight, Hahn supports even the most extreme tenets of the pro-abortion movement like partial-birth abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion. Hahn has used the issue of abortion to advance her candidacy, even releasing a campaign ad linking Huey to Sarah Palin and citing their opposition to abortion.

Another key distinction between the candidates is the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law. Janice Hahn supports the law, which provides for taxpayer funding of abortion and poses a grave threat to the elderly and those with disabilities in the form of healthcare rationing. Huey has pledged to repeal Obamacare.

Hahn’s endorsements reads like a who’s who list of the pro-abortion movement, including former Pres. Bill Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former DNC Chair Howard Dean, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Jerry Brown. She also enjoys the backing of Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and Feminist Majority.

Roll Call reported yesterday that Obama for America volunteers are phone-banking on Hahn’s behalf. At the same time, an automated voice message from Bill Clinton is hitting voters today hoping to encourage Democratic turnout.

In acknowledgment of the uphill battle Huey faces, national Republicans have largely ignored the special election. However, Huey has received the endorsements of several pro-life Republicans like Rep. Mike Pence, Rep. Tom McClintock and Rep. Ed Royce and 2010 California Senate candidate Chuck DeVore. In addition, the National Right to Life PAC is supporting Huey.

Liberal-leaning polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) found Hahn up 8 points going into today’s election. The poll, taken on behalf of liberal blog Daily Kos and the Service Employees International Union, puts Hahn at 52% and Huey at 44%. The fact that the margin between the candidates is in the single digits should worry Hahn, who should have the race wrapped up at this point.

If Democrats are victorious tonight, they will quickly move to spin the race as referendum on the Republican-controlled House. Nothing could be further from reality. The fact that political pundits are even discussing this race shows the weakness of Democrats even in reliably blue districts.

However, should Huey miraculously edge out a win, the effects could be felt nationwide. As Scott Brown’s surprise win in Massachusetts paved the way for the Republican landslide in 2010, a Huey victory in this blue district could build Republican momentum heading into 2012.