Assembly candidate Richard E. Longshore took a commanding lead in incomplete returns from Republican voters Tuesday, and Democrat Francis Hoffman was comfortably ahead in Orange County's only contested state Senate primary battle this year.
In two other contested Democratic primary races, mainstream Assembly candidates Jo Marie Lisa and Ray Anderson were leading followers of Virginia writer Lyndon LaRouche in heavily Republican areas where the eventual winners are given little hope in November against incumbent Republican Assemblymen Ross Johnson of La Habra and John R. Lewis of Orange.
Community college instructor Peggy Staggs had a narrow lead over former Wisconsin legislator Michael O. Ferrall and real estate broker Andrew Kincaid in the 58th Assembly District, where Republican Assemblyman Dennis L. Brown of Long Beach has represented coastal areas of Orange and Los Angeles counties since 1978.
With entrenched incumbents running in eight of nine contests, Orange County legislative primary campaigns provided little other drama.
Looking to November
Political observers were looking ahead to November, when Santa Ana Mayor Dan Griset, who was unopposed in Tuesday's primary, is expected to face Longshore in a high-stakes battle for the Assembly seat that incumbent Richard Robinson of Garden Grove is abandoning for his congressional bid.
The victor in the race between Hoffman, an Orange County Board of Education member, and Stanton Councilman Sal Sapien will be trying to wrest away the 32nd Senate District seat Republican Edward R. Royce of Anaheim won four years ago.
The 72nd Assembly District, where the Longshore-Griset battle in November is anticipated, was the only one of nine Orange County state legislative races that did not involve an incumbent.
With Democrats determined to hold on to their only state legislative seat wholly within Orange County and Republicans sensing an opportunity to make inroads in the blue-collar area, the district is expected to be a showcase political battleground this year.
Although he had no primary opponent, Griset said he walked precincts Tuesday just to introduce voters "to new Democratic leadership in central Orange County."
George V. Heaney polled 43% in a two-way primary contest with Longshore in 1982, but few considered him a serious Republican primary challenger for Longshore this time. And, Longshore, who had campaigned virtually full time since he fell 256 votes short of upsetting Robinson two years ago, was leading nearly 4 to 1 in early returns.
Solid GOP Backing
Longshore, 61, had solid backing from GOP leaders both locally and in Sacramento. His well-financed campaign had a bank balance of $50,000 as of last month. By contrast, Heaney's meager campaign funds had all been spent.
Another November match-up already generating attention during the primary campaign was in the adjacent 71st Assembly District where two-term Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress) will face Democratic newcomer Mark Rosen, 34, a Garden Grove attorney.
Both Rosen and Allen, 50, were unopposed in their respective party primaries.
Also unopposed in primaries were Republican Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle of Huntington Beach and his November Democratic challenger, Jack Baldwin of Irvine, plus Republican Assemblyman Gil Ferguson of Newport Beach and Democratic attorney Geoffrey S. Gray of Corona del Mar.
Republican Assembly incumbents Brown, Johnson and Lewis also ran unopposed and were expected to be reelected by comfortable margins in November.
In the 74th Assembly District, which includes the southern tip of Orange County and northern San Diego County, Republican Assemblyman Robert C. Frazee (R-Oceanside) was unopposed in the primary and will face no major party opposition in November unless Democratic write-in candidate Jim Melville gets the nearly 1,200 write-in votes he needs to get his name on the General Election ballot.
Royce, who will meet the Sapien-Hoffman winner, is also unopposed.