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Primary Roundup : Democrat Touts His Conservatism in Bid to Oppose Grisham

June 01, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

The heavily Democratic 63rd Assembly District has been represented for the last two years by Republican Wayne Grisham, but Robert White is hoping that a big win in the Democratic primary Tuesday will persuade his party's leaders that he can mount a strong challenge in the November general election.

"If I win big I will contact the leadership in Sacramento for financial help and support," White said.

But White, a Norwalk City Council member who is serving as mayor, must face Ruth Stephenson, 60, on Tuesday. Stephenson, who lives in Downey, is a follower of political maverick Lyndon LaRouche.

White says he best represents the views of voters in the 63rd district, which encompasses Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, Artesia, Santa Fe Springs, Hawaiian Gardens and parts of Lakewood, Whittier and Long Beach.

"I'm a law-and-order man. I'm conservative as hell. People don't know who Grisham is. He sends representatives to the district. He doesn't come around," said White, 65, who has been on the City Council for 18 years.

Stephenson, though, said "a vote for me is a vote for an international movement, the LaRouche movement."

Support for 'Star Wars'

LaRouche and groups connected with him advocate quarantining those with AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. They support the repeal of the Gramm-Rudman budget control measure and favor a strong defense, including the "Star Wars" program of President Reagan.

White said he will spend about $40,000 in the primary, while Stephenson has filed campaign reports indicating that she has raised less than $500. "LaRouche people believe your message carries and you don't have to spend a bundle of money," said Stephenson, who describes herself as a lecturer and consultant in international affairs.

Grisham, with no primary opposition Tuesday, has about $60,000 stashed away for the fall campaign and expects to have a total of about $150,000 for the general election campaign, according to Dan Piellissier, Grisham's field representative. "This area is conservative. Wayne is conservative. We plan to run an aggressive fall campaign," Piellissier said.

In 1984, Grisham replaced incumbent Democrat Bruce Young, who did not seek reelection. Grisham defeated Democrat Diane Xitco, the recipient of heavy backing from the state's Democratic leadership, which believed that the district rightly belonged to a Democrat.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the area almost 2 to 1. There are 77,720 Democrats and 43,340 Republicans, according to the lastest figures from the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office.

In the 47th Assembly District, incumbent Teresa P. Hughes (D-Los Angeles) has no opponents in the primary. The latest campaign reports submitted to the county registrar-recorder's office show that Hughes, 52, had raised more than $48,000.

Says Blacks Need a Choice

Attorney Victor L. Brown and businessman James Evan Delurgio are competing in the Republican primary to determine who will face Hughes in the fall.

Brown, 39, who is running for office for the first time, said he will raise between $2,000 and $3,000 for the primary. Brown, who is black, said he is running because the majority of the voters in the district who are black should have a choice between the two major parties.

"Democrats take minority voters for granted," Brown said. "I think I have a chance because California is basically a Republican state," Brown said.

Delurgio could not be reached for comment. He has spent less than $500, according to campaign reports.

Hughes has represented the 47th, which includes parts of central Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Bell and Cudahy, for 11 years. The district has 71,104 registered Democrats and only 8,925 Republicans.

In the 58th Assembly District, conservative Dennis Brown (R-Signal Hill), who has no opponent in the June contest, nevertheless has raised more than $235,000.

Three Democrats and one Peace and Freedom Party candidate are hoping to be the one who opposes Brown, who has been in the Assembly for four terms.

Brown as 'Dr. No'

Brown, 36, drew statewide attention last year when his bills became the target of a two-day boycott by legislators voicing their irritation over his consistent "no" votes on virtually all spending bills. That reputation that earned him the nickname "Dr. No" a few years ago when he voted against a program to stamp out bubonic plague in rats, a program partially targeted to help his own district.

"We have a Legislature heavily dominated by liberal Democrats, and quite frankly, I have been one of the leaders in trying to stop a lot of bad legislation from being passed. . . . We need to get government back to basics, really doing those types of projects that people can't do for themselves, instead of having a government that tries to do everything for everybody," Brown said.

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