"Any one of us would be a big improvement over the representation we have," Winograd said of her old nemesis Harman, whose last day in Congress is Tuesday before she leaves to head the Woodrow Wilson Center. "The last thing we need is someone who's going to be a loyal soldier for [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]. We need critical thinkers in Washington."
Winograd, who received 41 percent against Harman last June, said she's still "seriously considering" running and is being heavily encouraged by her supporters to get into the special election. She noted she still has high name recognition in the district, and it was "almost as though I never quit running." The high school English teacher lives just seven blocks outside the district, but state law doesn't require a candidate to live within the boundaries, and the district's lines will shift in redistricting.
"My decision will be based on what I hear in the platform of the candidates," said Winograd.
And while she reserved her judgment on Bowen's candidacy for Congress for now -- even noting she had hosted a fundraiser for her reelection last year -- Winograd did say she'd rather see Bowen stay as secretary of state.
"I've always applauded her ability to look critically at the electronic voting system and how it needed to be seriously revised, if not abandoned," Winograd said of Bowen. "What concerns me right now is that we need her in Sacramento. She's just gotten elected. She has three years left on her term. This is a critical time in California's history."
Both Bowen and Winograd are seen as more liberal than Hahn, who's already been quickly lining up the endorsements of state politicians, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Assembly Speaker John Perez, as well as key labor coalitions. And should Winograd join the race, Hahn would likely benefit thanks to the state's new top-two primary system.
"The key is [Winograd] she is the tea party of the left -- strongly ideological, active in the ultraliberal segment of the party," said Allen Hoffenblum, publisher of the non-partisan California Target Book. "How far does Debra Bowen to go to get her out of the race, and can she? It's good for Hahn. A three-way race would be very interesting."