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Debra Bowen scores endorsement from Democracy for America in congressional special election

March 23, 2011 |  5:07 pm

Democracy for America, the grass-roots political organizing group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean,  has endorsed California Secretary of State Debra Bowen in her bid to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) in an  upcoming special election.

Bowen is one of three prominent Democrats in an already crowded field vying to succeed Harman, who resigned last month to head a Washington think tank. Many view Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn as Bowen's main competition for  the strongly Democratic, South Bay-based 36th Congressional District seat.

Hahn got into the race quickly and sewed up endorsements from many area elected officials and labor groups while Bowen was still considering entering the race.  Antiwar activist and teacher Marcy Winograd, who has twice challenged Harman in primaries, also is running and has a strong base among liberals, especially on the Westside.

Democracy for America Chairman Jim Dean, Howard Dean's brother, said the organization, which has 7,000 members in the congressional district, made the endorsement after Bowen was the choice of 70% of members surveyed.

Bowen called the group "one of the most effective grass-roots organizations in the country."

Filing closes Friday, and about 20 people have taken at least initial steps to run in the May 17 special primary.

If no one wins a majority, a runoff will be held July 12 between the top two primary vote-getters, regardless of party. This will be the first congressional election under the state's new "top two" elections system, in which all the candidates appear on a single ballot.

-- Jean Merl