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Newly elected Ted Lieu endorses his onetime likely rival Janice Hahn for congressional seat

February 21, 2011 |  1:15 pm

State Sen. Ted Lieu, who last week won the seat once eyed by Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn, on Monday endorsed Hahn for her new ambition -- a South Bay area congressional seat being vacated at the end of the month by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice.)

Hahn, a San Pedro Democrat who is termed out of her city council seat in 2013, had wanted to run for the state Senate seat that became vacant after the death of Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) last fall.  But Lieu (D-Torrance) got into the race early and sewed up political leaders' support in the strongly Democratic 28th Senate District, forcing Hahn and other substantial Democrats to take a pass.

When Harman announced earlier this month she was resigning her congressional seat to lead a Washington think tank, Hahn wasted no time, acknowledging Lieu's early entrance became "the model" for her candidacy this time around.

Even before Lieu appeared with Hahn to announce his support at a Harbor City news conference, his onetime potential rival had sewn up backing from a host of other area officeholders and local environmental and labor groups. 

Hahn's strongest competitor in the heavily Democratic 36th Congressional District is expected to be Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who launched her campaign last week. Bowen was reelected to a second and final four-year term in her state office last November.

The governor cannot call a special election until Harman's seat is officially empty; she plans to resign Feb. 28.

Musical chairs, anyone?

-- Jean Merl