By Seema Mehta
February 4, 2015
Janice Hahn must decide whether to stay in Congress, with her party out of power, or run for county supervisor
As Rep. Janice Hahn weighs a run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors — where her late father held a seat for four decades — the San Pedro Democrat faces a rapidly changing district and potentially strong competition for one of the most powerful local elected jobs in the nation.
An advisor to Hahn said Wednesday that she will make up her mind soon whether to stay in Congress — where her party is out of power — or try to succeed Supervisor Don Knabe, who must leave office next year due to term limits.
If Hahn enters the race, she would be a top contender due to her name recognition, fundraising prowess and ties to portions of the 4th District, which stretches from the South Bay through Long Beach and into several communities in the southeastern portion of the county. But she would likely be challenged by fellow Democrats as well as Republicans for a rare opening on the county board.
“Janice certainly is the front-runner by virtue of name ID and overlap of representation,” said lobbyist Harvey Englander. “But there’s pluses and minuses to being from the city of L.A. when you’re running outside of the city of L.A.”
Knabe’s senior deputy Steve Napolitano, a former Manhattan Beach councilman, is running for the seat. Other potential candidates include Rep. Linda Sanchez, state Senate GOP leader Bob Huff and former Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin.
“I’ve been approached by about 18 individuals interested in running. It’s going to be a wide-open field,” Knabe said, adding that Hahn “would probably be in the top tier of candidates because of her name recognition alone.”
“I think the winner will be a much more moderate candidate of some sort — not a hardcore Republican or Democrat,” Knabe said.
A moderate Republican himself, Knabe was elected in 1996. The district’s demographics have changed considerably since then.
“It’s following the trend of the rest of Southern California and the state, becoming more ethnic and more Democratic as time goes by,” said Eric Hacopian, a Democratic political consultant.
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