Democratic state Sen. Ralph Dills faces no opposition in the 30th Senatorial District primary Tuesday, but a young Republican candidate hopes to roil the political waters for the five-term incumbent in the general election campaign.
Anthony Jay Gray, a 25-year-old Long Beach landscape contractor, says that on the day after the primary he will start exploding political mines along the 76-year-old lawmaker's path to another term in the Senate.
That is, Gray says, if he wins the Republican nomination against another 25-year-old political newcomer, Booker T. Cole Jr. of Gardena.
The hard-driving Gray, who acknowledges receiving some financial support and campaign advice from friends of conservative state Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora), says he has been on the campaign trail since January and has little doubt about the outcome of the primary.
'Incredible Crime Problem'
Gray has declined to reveal what surprises he may have in store for Dills in the November campaign. But in a recent interview he outlined several themes that he thinks will catch the attention of the district's 242,000 registered voters.
The senator, Gray said, has lost touch with his constituents and seems "unaware of the district's incredible crime problem, especially murder." He said Dills "is pulling a Tom Bradley" by refusing to state publicly his views on whether Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird should be confirmed for another term on the state Supreme Court.
"We're trying to get Dills to take a position," Gray said. "I've had a lot of people writing him letters since January, but they get no response."
Dills, who has seen many challengers come and go during his long career in public office, is not exactly running for cover. He served six terms, starting in 1938, in the state Assembly, sat as a municipal judge for four terms, and then settled into his Senate seat in 1966.
'In for a Fight'
"Whoever runs against me is in for a fight," Dills said. "I've never won an election any other way."
The fighting odds would seem to favor Democrat Dills. Sixty-nine percent of the district's registered voters are Democrats, Dills received better than 70% of the vote the last time around in 1982, and he had nearly $248,000 in his campaign war chest as of May 20.
Gray's campaign finance report for the same period shows contributions of $2,842, with a balance of $817 after expenses. He said in the interview that he received $371, enough to cover his filing fee, from state Sen. John T. Doolittle (R-Citrus Heights), one of Richardson's political allies.
Gray said he is definitely a conservative, law-and-order candidate but made his decision to run for Dills' post long before he came to the attention of the Richardson camp.
30th District Area
The 30th District covers Carson, Gardena, Wilmington, the Harbor-Gateway area, San Pedro, northwest Long Beach, Paramount, Lynwood and the southwest corner of Compton.
Dills brushed off the Bird issue as an "emotional appeal that is being thrown at the voters in an election year . . . (and) how I stand personally on the matter is my own business."
Dills said his reputation as a "law-and-order man" dates to his years as a judge and "as far as I'm concerned, my service (in the Senate) is the only issue in my reelection campaign."
The predominantly minority district does have severe problems with crime, he said, along with unemployment--"as high as 43% among young people." Senior citizens also need more help, especially in housing, and public education needs improvement, the senator said.
"It can get discouraging for everyone at times," Dills said. "But we're trying to do everything we can at the state level."
Cole, the other GOP candidate, said he has worked in retail store management since completing a stint of police work in the Air Force. He described his political views as fiscally conservative but socially moderate.
"There should be welfare for people who need it, but I've seen a lot of abuses of the system," Cole said. "There should be more checks and balances to be sure taxpayers' money is spent wisely."
He said he is pro-choice on abortion because the "state should not try to regulate women's bodies." At the same time, he said, "I'm against abortion morally. It should not be used as a form of birth control."
Lee H. Chauser, 40, of Long Beach is unopposed on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. He said he worked as an aerospace technician until beginning an English teaching career this year at Locke High School in Los Angeles.
Helped Found Party
Chauser said he helped found the Peace and Freedom Party in 1967 when he became active in anti-war causes. The party is a socialist-feminist movement that opposes capital punishment, supports the rights of gays and other minorities and wants the "military-industrial complex to be converted entirely to the production of useful consumer goods," he said.
Chauser said he ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Assemblyman Dave Elder in the 57th Assembly District four years ago.
Chauser and Cole filed campaign finance declarations stating that their contributions or expenses were less than $500 for the period ending May 20.