Tuesday's race for the 36th Congressional District seat vacated by Jane Harman will serve as an early test of the impact of PACs and Super PACs on the 2012 elections.
These independent political groups can raise unlimited money from unions, businesses and individual donors and spend it to support their chosen candidates—whether or not the campaigns like it. PACs played a critical role in the 2010 mid-terms.
What will their fallout be in 2012?
(Will Steven Colbert’s Super PAC tip the electoral scales?—just kidding.)
One so-called “rogue” PAC has already stirred up the 36th CD race, by launching a video depicting Democratic contender Janice Hahn as a stripper giving tax money to foul-mouthed, gang members.
Republican candidate Craig Huey disavowed the ad, but not before Hahn made an issue—and a fundraising tool—out of it.
The campaign to replace Democrat Harman will also provide both major parties a testing ground for potential national themes.
Jobs and the economy?
Hahn sees an active role for government in ending unemployment and talks of government support of jobs programs and economic initiatives which can help create “25,000 green jobs.
Huey argues that lowering taxes, cutting government spending and dumping burdensome regulations—getting government out of the economy—is the answer.
Hahn proposes removing troops from Afghanistan, as well as ending the Bush tax cuts and some corporate tax breaks, to save billions.
Huey has told reporters that he won’t “vote to increase the debt limit without a corresponding decrease in government spending.”
Ironically, redistricting will most likely determine the future of our local political production.
There’s no guarantee that the 36th CD, as it looks today, will even exist once the boundaries are redrawn to reflect new census data. Its voter registration may be less friendly to Democrats.
Or it may be split among other districts and disappear before the 2012 elections.
In the end, not even the most successful out-of-town tryout can predict a winning run.
For more on the CD36 race, go here.