Candidates jump in to replace Calif. Rep. Jane Harman

Candidates are already lining up to run in a special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who is leaving Congress to run a think tank.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars announced Harman’s appointment today. Harman, first elected in 1992, will succeed former congressman Lee Hamilton as the center’s president and chief executive.

Harman’s district, which includes Los Angeles beach communities such as Venice, is heavily Democratic.

It is rare for a U.S. House seat to become open in Southern California and the Los Angeles Times reports there is deep interest in Harman’s seat.

Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles City Council member, said she will run. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who represented much of the 36th Congressional District when she was a state legislator, is reported to be “seriously considering” making the race. Marcy Winograd, a liberal activist who challenged Harman in last year’s primary, is also thinking about running.

On the Republican side, Mattie Fein is considering the race. She was defeated by Harman in November.

The special election, which has to be called by Gov. Jerry Brown, will also test California’s new election system. Like Louisiana, all candidates run in the primary and the top two finishers regardless of party face each other in a runoff.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has had her differences with Harman, offered kind words at the news of her fellow Californian’s new post. Pelosi called Harman “a leading, authoritative voice on homeland security, counterterrorism and foreign affairs” who will be missed.

President Obama called Harman “a champion of our national security” and saluted her work on changes to the U.S. intelligence community after the 9/11 attacks.

By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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