Guy Benson

Last time we checked in on the special election in California's 36th Congressional District, we were strongly condemning a repulsive web ad put out by a "conservative" third party group.  Republicans (rightly) denounced the spot, which Democrats eagerly exploited for fundraising purposes.  Several GOP strategists I've spoken with subsequently have expressed exasperation over the following predicament: The offensive ad may have inoculated Democratic candidate Janice Hahn against legitimate examination and criticism of a controversial anti-gang program she championed as a member of the Los Angeles city council.  The infamous web ad was so over-the-top, these Republicans worry, it could render the entire issue politically toxic -- even though it might otherwise have some legs.  What political potency might it hold, you ask?  Read on.

The Republican candidate in the race -- Craig Huey, a self-funder who decried the ad in question -- has decided to pursue its underlying subject matter, despite the risks.  I'm told his campaign is mailing DVD's of a damning long-form FOX 11 news report to voters in the district:

Though Hahn's campaign has protested vociferously, FOX 11 stands by the story.  Sensing some traction, national Republicans have gotten in on the act, launching as an online resource to explains the controversy in relatively straightforward terms.  Democrats have taken notice.  "They seem nervous," one Republican operative told me.  "This should be a safe seat for them."  Under normal circumstances, yes; incumbent Jane Harman, whose retirement prompted the special election, won re-election by 25 points in 2010.  But because special elections are generally low-turnout contests, especially ones scheduled mid-summer (July 12, in this case), national Democrats are taking no chances.  Say, is that an ad tarring Huey as a radical right-winger?  Wait, is that Sarah Palin?  You betcha:

Note Hahn's risible promise to help "crack down on Washington spending."  If this weren't already a dubious pledge based solely on Hahn's alliance with a party that has shown itself to be positively allergic to spending restraint, Hahn's record of wasting LA taxpayers' money on ill-conceived social experiments (see above) should give voters ample cause to question her posture of fiscal responsibility.

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography