Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park) survived a bruising primary campaign two years ago in which his opponent, Gladys C. (Candy) Danielson, accused him of absenteeism and incompetence and derided him as a political lightweight.
Stung by the charges, Martinez called his opponent a liar, mounted a vigorous campaign and won renomination in the 30th Congressional District by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.
This year Martinez is facing primary opposition again, but instead of being pelted with verbal abuse, he is being lulled to sleep. At least that seems to be part of the strategy of his two Democratic opponents, Gilbert Barron, a member of the Garvey school board in Rosemead who admits that his campaign has been quiet so far, and George Trivich, a backer of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche who says he hopes to enliven his quiet campaign with a last-minute publicity stunt.
Elected to Board by One Vote
Barron, who won election to the school board by a single vote in November, said he has been too busy to campaign much. But he denied that he is without a plan and said his strategy will become evident shortly before the June 3 election.
Asked if he is plotting to embarrass Martinez with last-minute disclosures, Barron said, "We're not going to run a dirty campaign."
Then, is Barron hoping to encourage Martinez to take the election for granted and then blind-side him somehow? "That's closer to it," he said.
Barron said he expects to spend about $6,000 on the campaign and is counting heavily on volunteer help. "I've got a David-versus-Goliath kind of chance," he said.
Campaign by Press Release
Trivich said his campaign "mostly consists of press releases." But he said he hopes to blitz the district with leaflets in the final days of the campaign and has a "publicity gimmick" in mind that could draw attention. Trivich declined to identify the gimmick and added that it might prove too expensive to use anyway.
On the Republican side, John W. Almquist, 27, a law clerk, and Michael M. Radlovic, 26, a real estate broker, are competing for the right to be on the ballot in November.
In addition, there is a Libertarian candidate, Kim J. Goldsworthy, 29, a computer programmer who lives in Rosemead. Goldsworthy said he is running to promote the Libertarian philosophy of limited government.
Only 704 Libertarians
There are only 704 Libertarians registered to vote in the district, according to the county registrar-recorder's office. There are 110,291 Democrats and 53,432 Republicans among the 180,572 registered voters. About half the residents are Latino, but there is a growing Asian population.
The district includes Alhambra, Azusa, Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, El Monte, Irwindale, Maywood, Montebello, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel and Vernon and small parts of Arcadia, Duarte, Glendora, Monrovia and East Los Angeles.
Won the Seat in 1982
Martinez, 57, won the congressional seat in a special election in 1982, succeeding George Danielson, who resigned to accept a federal judgeship. It was Danielson's wife who ran against Martinez in the Democratic primary two years ago. Before being elected to Congress, Martinez served a term in the state Assembly and was on the Monterey Park City Council from 1974 to 1980.
Martinez, who said he is not taking the primary election for granted, has opened a campaign headquarters in Montebello and is enlisting volunteers to post signs and call voters.
But, he said, he has seen little evidence of active campaigning by his Democratic rivals. He said LaRouche supporters such as Trivich have rarely done well, although they did score surprising victories in Illinois recently. He said Barron is handicapped by the fact that he is running so soon after winning a four-year term on the school board. To be prepared to abandon that commitment, Martinez said, shows "a lack of integrity."
Martinez said another strike against Barron is the fact that he changed his registration from Republican to Democrat only about a year ago.
Barron said Martinez is in error about the date of his registration--it was 2 1/2 years ago. Barron said he originally was a Democrat, ran as a Republican in an unsuccessful effort to defeat state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) a decade ago and then returned to the Democratic Party because he thought it had moved in the direction of his own views.
Barron said he has two grievances against Martinez. He said the congressman refused last year to offer any help when he and other Rosemead residents organized to oppose the construction of a high school in a Rosemead neighborhood. And Barron said Martinez promised to endorse him for the school board and then reneged. In an earlier interview, Martinez said he had not endorsed Barron for the board because Barron "couldn't be considered a Democrat." Martinez could not be reached to respond to Barron's charge that he had reneged on a promised endorsement.