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County officials start Jane Harman replacement process even before governor calls special election

March 8, 2011 | 12:39 pm

The governor has yet to call a special election to replace former Rep. Jane Harman, but with so many potential candidates champing at the bit county elections officials have started the filing process anyway.

The Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk's office announced it had begun issuing forms to allow candidates to collect signatures on nominating papers. Officials have not yet set a deadline for turning in signatures but will do so once the governor calls the special election. He has until Monday to do so.

The Venice Democrat's announcement last month that she was resigning her seat in the largely coastal 36th Congressional District seat touched off a flurry of activity from would-be successors. Several, including presumed frontrunners Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Secretary of State Debra Bowen, both Democrats, already have set up campaigns, opened headquarters and begun raising money for the race.

Several others, including anti-war activist Marcy Winograd -- who pulled 41% of the vote against Harman in last June's Democratic primary -- and three local Republican elected officials also have launched campaigns.

The county registrar's decision allows candidates more time to collect signatures to offset or eliminate filing fees and to satisfy a requirement that a candidate collect a certain number of valid signatures from the district's registered voters in order to get on the ballot.

Harman, a veteran of the heavily Democrat district, resigned Feb. 28 to lead a Washington think tank.  The governor has been trying to coordinate this special election with one he hopes to call statewide to ask voters to extend some expiring state tax increases. However, he has been unable so far to get the Legislature to agree on a tax election.

-- Jean Merl