Democrat Janice Hahn has defeated Republican Craig Huey in a bitter contest for a Southern California seat in the House of Representatives, preserving her party’s hold on the district and surviving an unusually tough race in a long-time stronghold.

With all reporting, Ms. Hahn, a Los Angeles city councilwoman, had 41,585 votes, or about 55 percent, to 34,636, or about 45 per cent, forMr. Huey, who owns marketing and advertising companies and largely bankrolled his campaign with nearly $900,000 in personal funds.

Huey campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Jacobs says her candidate has left a message with Ms. Hahn’s office to concede the race.

With a light turnout and widespread voter anxiety over the economy, Republicans were hoping for an upset that would send a message heading toward the 2012 national elections, in which President Barack Obama will seek a second term.

But Ms. Hahn’s victory was far from impressive, given an 18-point Democratic registration edge in the 36th

Congressional District, which runs from the famous Venice boardwalk through the beach communities south of Los Angeles International Airport.

The result was obviously disappointing for Mr. Huey, but Ms. Jacobs said the campaign was pleased that the race was well within the 18-point registration edge because “there’s a sizable amount of people who broke with registration to vote for jobs and the economy in America.”

In May, Democrats snatched a New York congressional seat in a heavily Republican district after capitalizing on fears over a Republican plan to roll back Medicare and Social Security benefits. That made the Republicans eager to turn the tables in California, a reliably Democratic state in national elections.

The seat was previously held by Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, who resigned earlier this year to head a Washington think tank.

The race presented a stark choice.

Mr. Huey, 61, is a conservative who wanted to slash spending, taxes and debt and roll back government regulation; Ms. Hahn, 59, a Los Angeles city councilwoman, is a fixture in local Democratic politics who wants to see the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the growth of alternative energy.

The midsummer contest received little attention at a time of year when voters are thinking about weekends at the beach, the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers or how to survive the partial closure this weekend of Interstate 405, one of the region’s main traffic arteries.

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