J. Alex Cota is back on the campaign trail.
Cota announced this week that he is running as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 4 election for Assemblyman Tom Hayden's 44th District seat. This marks the fourth time in two years that Cota, a Democrat, has challenged Hayden.
"I'm back in the fray," said Cota, 59. "I can't allow the Democratic party to fall into the hands of someone like Hayden (D-Santa Monica)."
Cota, a self-employed real estate agent, contends that Hayden is unfit to hold public office because of his Vietnam-era anti-war activities. Cota spent about $75,000, most of it his own money, on three previous anti-Hayden campaigns, and said he expects to spend another $12,000 this time.
Cota said he is making headway as an alternative candidate. But he remains far behind Hayden at the polls. He received about 23% of the vote when he challenged Hayden in this year's primary.
Hayden declined comment on Cota's candidacy. But in the past Hayden's staff has likened Cota to a fanatic because of his habit of heckling Hayden in public. Cota countered that he confronts Hayden at public appearances because Hayden refuses to debate him.
Cota was also critical of Hayden's Republican opponent, Gloria J. Stout. He said Stout is going easy on Hayden by refusing to criticize his past. Cota said he expects to publicize his write-in campaign on radio and in flyers.
"I'm going to scrape together everything I can for this campaign," Cota said. "It's not an easy fight. But the people are starting to listen."
The 44th District stretches from Malibu to Culver City. Hayden, 46, has represented the predominantly Democratic area since 1982 and is favored to win reelection easily. The two other candidates in the race are Neal Donner, a Libertarian, and Carol Berman, a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.