Ask Democrat Glenn Anderson what he has been up to since the last election--or, for that matter, the last nine elections--and he will probably give a detailed report on what has been happening in and around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles lately--and for the last three or four decades.
Naturally, he does not overlook mentioning that he played a key role in the development of the twin ports during his 18 years in Congress and during 16 earlier years as a state legislator and California's lieutenant governor.
He cites chapter and verse on the numerous bills he has authored to appropriate federal money for dredging the harbor, expanding port facilities, building roads and freeways to link the ports with inland shippers and most anything else that was needed to make San Pedro Bay the West Coast's biggest ocean outlet.
Indeed, Anderson said, Los Angeles this year surpassed New York and New Jersey in customs collected from shippers--about $2 billion of the $10 billion taken in annually at all the nation's ports.
When the subject turned, in a recent interview, to the June 3 primary election in his 32nd District, Anderson said he is too heavily involved in the "many issues facing the nation and my district" to give much personal attention so far to who is running against him.
He said the House's surface transportation subcommittee, which he chairs, has to meet two or three times a week to keep up with proposals to develop the nation's highways and waterways. "I'm the author of the highway bill every time we pass one," he said.
In between subcommittee meetings, he sits as the second most senior member of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, which he said is working hard on measures to cope with toxic wastes and to clean up the country's drinking water supplies.
Then there are all those foreign policy issues that he tries to keep up with, like Libya ("I strongly supported the President's action against government-sponsored terrorism") and Central America ("I couldn't go along with the Administration on the contra thing").
Asked again to comment on the election, Anderson said he knows very little, if anything, about the other people on the primary ballot. They happen to be a follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. in the Democratic primary, two youthful political newcomers on the Republican side and a veteran peace activist on the Peace and Freedom ticket.
"Maybe in the fall, when I get a break from my duties in Congress, I'll be able to get active in the campaign," he said. "Meanwhile, I'm relying on the many volunteers to do what campaigning is needed."
Judging from recent elections in the district, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1, not too much campaigning will be needed to assure the 73-year-old congressman a 10th term in office.
In the 1984 general election, Anderson easily outdistanced an aggressive GOP opponent with 61% of the vote--even while many Democrats were switching to the Republican side of the presidential ballot to help give President Reagan 58% of the votes cast.
And in the election two years earlier, Anderson emerged with 58% of the ballots in a contest with perhaps his toughest GOP contender--Brian Lungren, brother of Republican Rep. Dan Lungren.
This year's candidates for the GOP nomination are focusing on the Republican theme of past campaigns--that Anderson is one of Washington's biggest spenders and just generally too liberal to represent a district that gained conservative strength through reapportionment.
Friendly Territory Lost
Anderson agreed that redistricting caused him some "heartbreaking" losses of friendly territories, but said he is working to get better acquainted with his new constituents and got a very good response from them in the last election.
A series of changes ending in 1984 moved Anderson's district southeast of his original base in the South Bay--he began his political career 46 years ago as mayor of Hawthorne--taking away such cities as Redondo Beach, Torrance, Gardena, Carson and Lomita.
The new 32nd covers Harbor City, most of San Pedro (but not Anderson's home overlooking the bay), Wilmington, most of Long Beach (but not including the ocean side of the harbor), Lakewood, Hawaiian Gardens, a strip of Bellflower and about two-thirds of Downey. As for being too liberal, Anderson said: "I keep in very close touch with the people in my district and I think I'm doing what they want me to do, whether we're talking about business and labor people or John Q. Public."
Anderson's voting record over the years, as measured by various lobbying groups, indicates that he has generally kept pace with the country's movement toward the political center. For example, Americans for Constitutional Action, a decidedly conservative group, gave him a 5% rating in 1973, but steadily moved him up to 52% in 1984.
Labor Rating Shifts