After easily brushing aside challengers in four previous elections, Democrat Julian Dixon might well conclude that he is doing something right in the eyes of voters in the 28th Congressional District.
His winning ways--76% of the vote last time and 79% in 1982--may be partly attributed to his image as a cool, competent politician who pays close attention to the needs and interests of his constituents.
It also helps to have a district in which Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 4 to 1.
But Dixon's strongest suit, as he goes for what seems likely to be a routine reelection to a fifth term in Congress, may be a close match between what he does in Washington and what at least three-fourths of his constituents want him to do.
Dixon said he works to keep federal dollars flowing into social programs for the poor and jobless in his diverse district. At the same time, he said, he is mindful of the many middle-class, upwardly mobile folks out there who are concerned about taxes, crime, improving schools and keeping up the appearance of their neighborhoods.
Dixon is willing to give what he calls a cost-of-living increase to the defense industry, which provides an estimated 200,000 jobs in his district. But apparently he was in tune with many voters in his district when he opposed the MX missile and other military projects as unnecessary and too costly shortly before the general election in 1984.
To put it simply, he said in a recent interview, "I would like to see less money spent for defense and more for social programs."
He supported President Reagan's bombing attack on Libya, saying that it delivered a needed message that terrorists must pay for their conduct. On the other hand, Dixon contends that military force is not the way to deal with the problem in Nicaragua, so he steadfastly opposes aid for the contra rebels in that country.
Dixon voted against the Gramm-Rudman bill, arguing that it is a mechanical approach to deficit cutting that takes a disproportionate share of federal funds from bread-and-butter domestic programs. Yet he said he is concerned about the federal deficit and wants to make a balanced budget a "high priority . . . keeping in account our people's immediate needs."
Faced with this neatly balanced, proven approach to serving a mostly liberal urban community, Dixon's opponents in the primary and general elections are left to hope that changes in the political climate since 1984 have aroused new forces that could sweep out the veteran incumbent.
Dixon's June primary opponent--his first since 1978--is a Lyndon LaRouche follower who is hoping that the 28th District is ready for the splinter party's solutions to world and domestic problems.
And in the November elections, the winner of the Republican nomination will be hoping that a district that gave Reagan only 32% of its vote in 1984 will at last have seen the President's light.
Dixon's voting record in Congress brings him high ratings from liberal special-interest groups, such as 95% from Americans for Democratic Action and the Committee on Political Education of the AFL-CIO and 90% from the American Civil Liberties Union.
On the other side, the American Conservative Union starts Dixon out at zero, and from there he goes up to a 38% rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The National Journal, in its 1984 overall ratings, ranked Dixon at 75% for liberal-oriented votes on economic issues, 84% on social and 81% on foreign.
In his last campaign financial report for the period ending March 31, Dixon recorded $68,577 in earlier donations, $7,225 in new receipts, $11,058 in expenses and a cash balance of $64,744.
Dixon's primary opponent, Joe Alcoset, 38, is an aerospace logistics analyst who has been active in the LaRouche movement for about five years. Like other LaRouche candidates, he is hoping for a protest vote against the incumbent, like the one in the March Illinois primary.
"A lot of people are looking for alternatives," said Alcoset, who lives in Culver City. "They're ready for political change."
In explaining his political views, Alcoset recites LaRouche doctrines that defy easy labels because they span the philosophical spectrum.
He is strong on building the so-called Star Wars defense shield against nuclear missiles, and he subscribes to the "evil empire" view of Soviet communism. Score one for the more conservative backers of President Reagan?
However, he is dead set against the Gramm-Rudman Act--which prescribes Draconian measures to overcome the federal deficit by 1991--because he says it eliminates a wide range of social services that people need.
Supports Federal Spending
He is enthusiastic about massive federal spending to spur the national and world economy, and he believes that strong measures must be taken to pull mankind back from the nuclear abyss. Score one for the liberal view?