Primary battle looms once more between eight-term House Dem and progressive challenger...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/29/2009, 4:05pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

A little more than seven months after launching her second attempt to unseat California's powerful eight-term Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman, the PDA-backed Marcy Winograd recently sent out a fundraising email in which she described Harman as the Joe Lieberman of the House.

In the campaign letter, Winograd notes Harman's claim in her 1998 election, as reported by the Los Angeles Times: "I was flattered to be introduced in the last election as the best Republican in the Democratic primary."

The Harman campaign did not respond to an email requesting comment on the quote above, though a spokesperson from the Winograd camp sent us a copy of the archived 1998 LA Times report on the Congresswoman's comments to "several hundred civic leaders" in downtown Los Angeles, containing her direct quote which ends with Harman adding: "I accept."

The race presents a classic David and Goliath match up. With a net worth ranging between $236 million to $558 million, Harman, is said to be one of the richest members of Congress. Winograd, by contrast, is running a bottom-up progressive campaign of the type I advocated for recently in "Progressives of America - Unite!". The match-up presents a stark contrast in directions for a conflicted Democratic Party...

In addition to Progressive Democrats for America, Winograd's notable progressive supporters include Daniel Ellsberg, Gore Vidal, Ron Kovic, Jodie Evans, Co-Founder, Code Pink, Norman Solomon, Lila Garrett of KPFK, David Swanson and Jim Hightower.

Harman's campaign web site, contains a long list of people and organizations who have endorsed her candidacy, which includes numerous elected officials, multiple labor and professional organizations, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), the Sierra Club and the California Democratic Party.

In her email, Winograd challenged Harman's record in Congress, stating:

• Harman voted to protect the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of patients - making it more difficult for breast cancer patients to buy affordable generics.

• Harman voted against the bill that would have permitted judges to reduce mortgage payments in bankruptcy courts.

• Harman voted to protect and bail out the big banks while supporting legislation that made it more difficult for consumers to declare bankruptcy.

• Harman applauded Bush's illegal wiretapping program; three years later she claimed she never supported it.

• Harman lobbied for the Iraq invasion and occupation while personally investing in military contractors.

According to an April 3, 2008 article, "Strategic Assets," published by Project Censored, Harman, whose committee assignments include Homeland Security and a subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism invested $6,260,000 in military contracts.

Harman's family "held at least $3.2 million in more than 20 health-care companies at the end of last year.

As we previously reported, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) successfully inserted an amendment to the House health care "reform" bill which gives "developers of innovative biomedical drugs 12 years of statutory protection from generic competition, significantly extending their patent rights." According to Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, the Eshoo amendment would provide "a big payoff to biotech firms and their venture backers by hindering the entry of a new class of generic drugs into the market."

The Eshoo amendment succeeded after Harman joined with Eshoo in Committee to kill an amendment offered by Henry Waxman (D-CA) which would have provided "a 5-year fast-track of generic biologics....A May 15, 2009 financial disclosure statement Harman filed with the House of Representatives reveals Harman's 2008 investment portfolio included stock in at least three biologic manufacturers: Pfizer, Abbot Labs, and Johnson & Johnson."

In April of this year, Jeff Stein of CQ Politics reported that Harman “was overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former [AIPAC] officials. “In return, the Israeli agent pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee,” Stein reported.

As we noted previously, Harman denied the allegation and, in any case, never received the chairmanship of that committee.

Those wishing to directly contact the Winograd campaign can do so here. Those wishing to contact the Harman campaign can do so here.

While voting is restricted to those living within California's 36th Congressional district, anyone can work for or contribute to the campaigns of either candidate.


Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).

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