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Who's the "Real Progressive" in 36th Congressional Race

Nick Antonicello: Can Democrats take a chance in sending to Washington another "right-of-center" Democrat who will seemingly work with the likes of John Boehner, Eric Cantor or Kevin McCarthy?

The first debate between Democrats Marcy Winograd, Janice Hahn & Debra Bowen was telling in many ways in that neither Hahn or Bowen would even mention the name of Jane Harman.

winograd hahn bowen

The former congresswoman, now safely tucked away as a "statesman" of sorts inside the Beltway as the head of a think tank preserves her insider status and the best invitations to all the great parties and receptions in that culture known as Washington, DC!

But Harman has faded away politically despite spending $1.2 million dollars to defeat Marcy Winograd some nine months ago.

An election she won with the support of LA Councilwoman Hahn and at least the tacit approval of Secretary of State Bowen.

It should be noted that despite being the obvious liberal and in complete contrast with the "Blue Dog" antics of this Bush Democrat in Jane Harman, Marcy Winograd failed to get the endorsement of either Hahn or Bowen in 2006 and again in 2010!

Why are both Hahn & Bowen avoiding the question why they supported Harman over Winograd?

Now as the political opportunity for a seat in congress gave way, both Hahn & Bowen are seemingly tripping over each other in this lunge to the left to secure party activists and grass roots Democrats that they are the best choice to succeed their mentor, Jane Harman!

In the case of Hahn, she showcased Harman's endorsement and support in her failed, 1998 run for congress in the 36th against GOP assembly member Steve Kuykendall. Despite the fact Democrats picked up a net of five seats nationally in that cycle, Hahn was unable to hold the 36th for Democrats.

In her third try running as a Democrat, Hahn has failed in bids for congress and lieutenant governor.

When the question was asked by Winograd why Bowen & Hahn supported the re-election of Harman, there was an "eery" silence that I believe will continue in these debates every time that question is answered!

Given Hahn's impressive list of endorsements, why isn't she touting the support of Jane?

She did in 1998.

Why not in 2011?

And while Deborah Bowen has pulled away some progressive endorsements previously enjoyed by Marcy, just what is progressive about the record of Deborah Bowen?

Obviously a Democrat, Bowen has never run any of her campaigns like a partisan and is in clear contrast to that of Hahn.

In fact, Deborah Bowen has never described herself as "progressive" in any of her races for the assembly, senate or secretary of state!

In fact the one theme she has used over and over again is that she's independent and a different kind of Democrat.

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But a more detailed review of Bowen's previous campaigns as well as her fundraising practices unearths a candidate far more shrewd and "center right" than the rhetoric of this struggling congressional effort.

Winograd supporters have found that from 1998 to 2000 Bowen received $4,000 from the Enron Corporation.

In fact, Bowen accepted over $36,000 in campaign contributions from oil & gas companies between 1998 and 2010. That time span covers nearly all of Bowen's tenure in Sacramento as a legislator.

Specifically, Bowen accepted campaign contributions from Atlantic Richfield/Arco, California Independent Oil Marketers, Chevron, De Menno-Kerdoon, Pacific Enterprises, Regent International, Tosco, California Service Station & Automotive Repair Association, 7-Eleven Gasoline Service Stations, Paul Morabito (President of Baruk Petroleum) and Conoco.

Even more peculiar for this so called progressive is Bowen's support of WAL-MART, one of organized labor's biggest private sector adversaries!

From 2001 to 2004, Bowen reported owning stock in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. between $10,001 and $100,000!

How does any progressive or friend of labor make a case for a stock portfolio that includes one of labor's biggest organizing opponents?

How does any Democrat side with the likes of Enron & Wal-Mart over say, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) or California's rate payers?

In her own campaign literature for reelection to the legislator, Bowen has been a critic of the state lottery as well as promoting the fact "she works with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and Independents to solve California 's problems. She has co-sponsored over a dozen bills with her Republican colleagues in the Assembly."

In questionnaires filled out by her campaigns she opposed reducing income taxes for those earning less that $75,000 while supporting corporate tax breaks.

In a Daily Breeze editorial, Bowen was described as supporting "tort reform" and co-authored a bill to keep "three strikes" bill intact after a court challenge, and she authored legislation that would have required criminals to reimburse taxpayers for trial costs.

She remains a firm advocate of the death penalty.

Bowen was also one of a handful of Democrats who voted to expand charter schools while seeking to merge the California Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization. She authored legislation to cut corporate taxes and is a vocal critic of the state's lottery.

Is this in anyway the record of a reliable progressive?

Can Democrats take a chance in sending to Washington another "right-of-center" Democrat who will seemingly work with the likes of John Boehner, Eric Cantor or Kevin McCarthy?

In her own words, Bowen wanted to work with Libertarians in the California legislature. What will she do when she finally meets up with the likes of Michele Bachmann or Mike Pence?

Marcy Winograd is the only real progressive in this race to succeed Jane Harman and her two longtime allies in Janice Hahn & Debra Bowen.

Nick Antonicello