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Vitriolic South Bay congressional race nears combative finish

July 10, 2011 | 10:22 pm

The vitriol continued to mount as an especially hard-fought South Bay congressional race entered the last few days of the campaign.

Democrat Janice Hahn and Republican Craig Huey, combatants for the seat resigned earlier this year by then-Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), continued to pound away at each other, which some observers took as a sign the race was tightening up.

The California Democratic Party, which said it has had someone videotaping Huey at his Torrance headquarters, was on hand Sunday when the businessman was served a subpoena from his ex-wife, who says he owes some back child support. The episode over the disputed amount marked "a new low in the annals of campaign dirty tricks," said Huey campaign strategist Dave Gilliard. Noting that Hahn had been through a "bitter" divorce herself years ago, he added: "You would think she would have the decency to leave family matters private."

A day earlier, it was Huey who attacked Hahn, claiming she had tried to trick voters into believing she was endorsed by former World War II POW Louis Zamperini of Torrance. A Hahn strategist called the allegation "absurd," pointing out that the political mailer featuring a photo of Hahn and Zamperini does not claim an endorsement. "It's more of a description of his respect for the Hahn family," said Hahn strategist John Shallman.

The caption reads: "Pictured here with Janice, Louis Zamperini has been friends with the Hahn family for over 40 years. He knows their commitment to public service and fighting for America." Shallman said Zamperini's son, Luke, approved the language in the mailer.

But it wasn't all hits and slams over the weekend as both sides worked feverishly to rally their voters.  The Huey campaign offered bus transportation "from virtually every major location in California" and free lunch, beverages and snacks for those willing to walk precincts. The Hahn campaign added automatic phone messages from President Obama and former President Bill Clinton to her volunteers' precinct walks and phone banking.

Election Day in the 36th Congressional District is Tuesday.

-- Jean Merl