Janice Hahn brings Los Angeles credentials to Lieutenant Governor race

Janice Hahn has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2001. She is running as a Democrat for California Lieutenant Governor, and her main opponent in the primary is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Hahn comes from a solid line of Los Angeles politicians and enjoys high name recognition in the area. This could be important, as the L.A. area will deliver massive numbers of votes in the upcoming primary on June 8, and she is definitely a home town favorite.

She is the sister of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn (2001-2005), niece of Council member Gordon Hahn (1953-1963), and daughter of legendary Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn (1952-1992).  As a council member, she has focused on gang prevention programs, instituting neighborhood councils, and lessening traffic congestion during the day as well as pollution at the Port of Los Angeles.  She has also pushed for higher wages and better benefits for hotel and port workers, nurses, and others. Her close ties with labor will help her raise campaign money as well as provide volunteers.

So, what the heck does the Lieutenant Governor do? Gavin Newsom said he didn’t know. The Hahn campaign gleefully latched onto this as proof that Newsom wasn’t ready for the job, detailing precisely what the Lieutenant Governor’s duties are on their website. They also ran a video mocking Newsom saying it, complete with a soundtrack of Sam Cooke‘s “Wonderful World.” This was such an obvious copyright violation that a lawyer responded that Hahn “Don’t know much about copyright”. The ad was quickly re-released with no Sam Cooke.

In another kerfuffle, the Hahn campaign said since Newsom had previously tried to run for governor, dropped out, and is now running for Lieutenant Governor, those contributing to him for the governor race can’t go over the total aggregate of allowable contributions for one candidate. The Newsom campaign says this is malarkey and the California Fair Political Practices Committee says the contribution cap is per candidate per election.

In all of this, the issues are getting lost. Hahn’s website has a vaguely liberal platform without much in the way of specifics. Sure, we all want quality education, but the state is going broke. How things like this will be funded remains unsaid. At some point we will have to deal with the budget deficit. Well, she’s hardly the only politician dodging those thorny issues. At least she lists them.  Newsom’s campaign website is a mere one page, which primarily asks for contributions.

Back to the Lt. Governor’s duties, in case you were still wondering. They include acting as governor in the absence of the current governor, President of the State Senate, chair of the Economic Development Commission, being a voting member of the UC Board of Regents, as well as membership on other councils and boards. It also gives statewide visibility, which is important to those with an eye to higher office, like being governor or senator.

Let’s hope this race doesn’t degenerate into name-calling and personal attacks, and instead focuses on the serious problems facing California now.