David M. Shell, the fiery Republican attorney who retreated from public life after losing a hard-fought and often vitriolic campaign against Assemblyman Tom Hayden in 1984, has indicated that he will try again.
Shell signed a declaration of intent to run in the 44th District Assembly race at the county registrar-recorder's office Wednesday, the last day for filing.
A spokeswoman in Shell's office said he was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon. But in an interview last week, Shell, who captured 40% of the vote in 1984, said he was seriously considering the race. He would not explain his reasons at that time.
If Shell decides to run, he would face two lesser-known opponents in the June primary: Bill Mundell, a 25-year-old economist, and Gloria J. Stout, a 41-year-old businesswoman who once challenged Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude.
State Republican Party officials have said that Hayden will be hard to beat because of his fund-raising ability and the predominantly Democratic makeup of the 44th District, which stretches from Malibu to West Los Angeles. But others have stated that Shell, who has publicly expressed extreme dislike for Hayden, probably would enliven the race.
The 39-year-old Shell earned a reputation as a tough and successful advocate for landlords battling Santa Monica's rent control law in the early 1980s. When he decided to challenge Hayden in 1984, Shell received the support of an impressive array of GOP stalwarts, including former President Gerald R. Ford, U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson and Gov. George Deukmejian.
Shell was unchallenged in the primary and was campaigning in the general election when Hayden revealed that Shell had been court-martialed and sentenced to a year at hard labor for drug abuse while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Shell denounced the revelation as unfair and responded with his own attacks, calling Hayden "Mr. Sleaze" and the "Criminal's Friend," a reference to Hayden's voting record on crime.
Won 1984 Race
Hayden was not immediately available for comment on Shell's decision.
He won the 1984 race with about 56% of the vote, after each candidate had spent about $400,000. Shell returned to his law practice at the Southern California Legal Foundation, pledging to step up his public interest work.
Today Shell is in private practice in Santa Monica. The foundation collapsed last year after the group of apartment owners that provided much of the organization's financial backing withdrew their support in a dispute over Shell's business practices.