With Assemblyman Isadore Hall out of what had been a three-way race for a new congressional seat, the Janice Hahn campaign has been wasting no time trying to claim the advantage for the freshman Democratic congresswoman from San Pedro.
Hall’s departure from the race for the new 44th District, which runs from the harbor area to South Gate, leaves only one African American in the race—Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) for a seat that had been drawn to favor the election of a black. But campaign strategists for Hahn, who is white, say the exit of Hall, a Democrat from Compton, is a help.
They cited Hahn’s new endorsements from several black elected officials in Compton as evidence. And then there is the online endorsement and apology from black consultant Basil Kimbrew, who was one of Hahn’s harshest critics when she decided to run for the seat after her home was drawn into the new district and her current, largely coastal, territory was obliterated by a citizens redistricting commission over the summer.
“I was wrong,” Kimbrew wrote on his California Friends of the African American Caucus website, “this is not about race, this is about caring for and delivering representation with honor and ethics we can all be proud of.”
That last remark was an apparent swipe at Richardson, who is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly using her congressional staff to do campaign work.
Eric Hacopian, Richardson’s campaign consultant, said it’s ridiculous to think that Hahn will siphon much of the black vote from Richardson.
Hall’s leaving the race means Hahn will “have a much tougher race now.... The African American vote will no longer be split. Now there is a single African American candidate who will be on the same ballot as Barack Obama.”
Because of the state’s new “top-two” primary system, the top two vote-getters in any contest will advance to the November general election regardless of party affiliation. In this race so far, that's looking to be Hahn and Richardson.
Photos: Rep. Laura Richardson, left, and Rep. Janice Hahn. Credits: Lawrence Jackson (Richardson) / Associated Press and Francine Orr (Hahn) / Los Angeles Times