Rep. Harman’s Seat Might Take Months to Fill

Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011 07:35 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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The congressional seat left open with Tuesday’s abrupt resignation of Rep. Jane Harman might take months to fill, and the Democratic congresswoman acknowledged paying for a special election to fill her seat comes at a time California faces severe budget problems.

In an interview with CNN’s John King, Harman, who was sworn in to her ninth term last month, and gave up the seat in Congress to become head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, said despite hesitation, she was made an offer she couldn’t refuse.

King noted that Harman just took the oath of office, “and now the state of California is going have to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $2 million, just shy of that, on a special election.”

“Some people say, well, when you ran, didn't you commit to the people of California that you would stay two years,” King said. “You could have said no. You could have said, what a great opportunity, I'd love to do it but I just took the oath.”

Calling it a “fabulous opportunity,” Harman, one of Congress’ last moderate Democrats, noted the offer’s timing, saying the Woodrow Wilson search committee approached her in late December after her fall re-election.

“Sure I could have said no,” she said. “I hesitated quite a bit because of my commitment to my constituents, to my excellent staff, and to my colleagues here. But I ultimately decided that after 17 years in Congress – and these years are like dog years – the new challenge was something I couldn't refuse.

“The governor of California, Jerry Brown, has some real latitude under state law to set this election,” Harman continued. “He is planning … to hold a special election this summer, on extending some tax provisions for the state, which is in dire straits. And this election could be part of that ballot. That would save a lot of money.”

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