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Democrat Announces Bid for Assembly : Jack McGrath, Former Campaign Manager, Seeks Davis' Post

March 10, 1986|JAMES QUINN | Times Staff Writer

A Studio City resident Sunday declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to run for Assemblyman Gray Davis' seat amid reports that a flock of Westside candidates will join the race. Another Valley resident said he was still exploring the possibility of running.

Both men speculated that the anticipated glut of Westside candidates could work to their advantage if those candidates compete for the same votes. Under state law, the winner of the June 3 primary need capture only a plurality of votes.

Declaring his candidacy Sunday was Jack McGrath, 40, of Studio City, a sometimes controversial political campaign manager and fund-raiser who has been associated with a variety of Democratic officeholders in Los Angeles during the past 15 years.

Political Foment

Still undecided was Richard Close, 41, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., who for more than a decade has fought to reduce noise generated by Burbank Airport and to restrict development along Ventura Boulevard.

The political foment began unexpectedly Friday when Davis (D-Los Angeles) announced that he was giving up his 43rd District seat to run for the Democratic nomination for state controller.

The early favorite for the Democratic nomination to succeed Davis appears to be Terry B. Friedman, 36, a Westwood lawyer who has already been endorsed by leaders of the powerful political organization headed by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles).

District Divided Equally

The district is solidly Democratic and is divided about equally between the south Valley communities of Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks and Studio City, and the affluent Westside, including the communities of Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Bel-Air, which traditionally produce large contributions for Democratic candidates.

Also mentioned as possible candidates are Steve Saltzman, a West Los Angeles lawyer and former aide to Mayor Tom Bradley, Barry C. Groveman, head of the environmental unit of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, and several West Hollywood City Council members.

McGrath, a Studio City realtor, predicted that he would have $100,000 in campaign pledges by the filing deadline Wednesday.

He said he would offer himself as the candidate "who represents interests other than the Berman-Waxman machine . . . and a candidate who is familiar with the Valley and its individual needs."

McGrath's career as a political fund-raiser and campaign manager ran aground in 1981 when, as campaign manager for city attorney candidate Bob Ronka, he put together a television commercial accusing Ronka's opponent, Ira Reiner, with soliciting mass-murderer Charles Manson as a legal client.

The ad was denounced by local bar associations and pulled off the air. McGrath resigned and Ronka lost the race to Reiner.

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