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28th District Heavily Democratic : Dixon's Foes Facing an Uphill Ballot Battle

October 19, 1986|BOB WILLIAMS | Times Staff Writer

In the crazy-quilt pattern of the state's political map, Democrat Julian C. Dixon's 28th Congressional District stands out as a model of regularity. Its boundary lines have few of the tortuous twists and turns that the Democratic-controlled Legislature in Sacramento often employed after the 1980 census to carve up voting territories to the best advantage of party incumbents.

Indeed, if some rough edges were squared off, the 28th would form a rather neat rectangle stretching from Inglewood, Ladera Heights and Culver City to the Coliseum and USC near downtown Los Angeles.

The territory that emerged after redistricting remains, not surprisingly, solidly Democratic. In fact, it is so rich in party faithful that Dixon, in the last round of remapping, was able to give up some loyal precincts to neighboring Democratic incumbents--and still have a domain in which nearly 73% of the registered voters are members of his party.

The racially mixed district spans the economic spectrum, with poorer minorities tending to cluster at the eastern end and more affluent whites, blacks and Latinos gathered in the west side.

Anglos make up about a third of the residents, after a postwar migration of blacks to the area, and in recent years the percentage of Latinos has climbed rapidly to about 30%.

Whatever their race, the overwhelming majority of the district's voters have regularly joined together to send black Democrats to Congress--Yvonne Brathwaite Burke after the 28th was first created in 1972 and Dixon since 1978.

The Republican hoping to break these rigid voting habits and derail Dixon's bid for a fifth term in the Nov. 4 elections is George Adams, 60, a prominent Latino businessman and longtime political organizer.

The key to the feat, Adams believes, is the potential appeal of an experienced Latino politician who backs President Reagan "all the way," unabashedly proclaims patriotic themes and upholds the free-enterprise system.

An energetic campaigner, Adams claims he has made "substantial" inroads in the Dixon camp by attracting Democrats who he says are looking for a more conservative alternative to the incumbent's "tax-and-spend" approach to social problems.

The third candidate on the ballot is Howard Johnson, 46, who represents the tiny (695 registered voters) Libertarian Party. A Los Angeles immigration attorney, Johnson stresses his opposition to any attempts to cut off the flow of job-seeking immigrants, who he contends have become an essential part of the American economy.

Johnson said he also opposes U.S. intervention in Central America, particularly the Reagan Administration's support for the Nicaraguan rebels called contras. He labeled the American bombing raid on Libya "an act of terrorism" and said Third World countries would not be "forced into communism" if the United States stopped interfering in their domestic affairs.

In line with the Libertarian philosophy, Johnson said he believes that most of the ills of mankind stem from big-government interference in people's lives. People should be taught to "understand their choices, instead of being inculcated with patriotism," he said.

Reached by telephone at his Washington office last week, Dixon, 52, indicated that he is still following the path that has consistently won the ballot approval of at least three-fourths of his constituents--a liberal stand on social and foreign policy issues and a quiet but relentless effort to bring more federal dollars to his district, particularly for social programs.

Dixon has not been in a serious election battle since 1978, when he beat back eight Democratic challengers for his party's congressional nomination to succeed Burke. He breezed past GOP opponents with 76% of the vote in 1984 and 79% the time before.

His lack of concern over a serious challenge this time around may be seen in the level of his campaign financing. Despite an incumbent's ready access to contributors, he reported only $50,790 in donations and $19,393 in campaign expenses so far this year. With a carry-over from previous years, that left $77,873 in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, according to the report.

Republican Adams reported $17,909 in contributions, with all but $53 of that spent by the end of September. His campaign treasurer, Tom Cox, said another $7,500 has been received this month, with the prospect of more coming in through fund raisers.

Libertarian Howard, whose contributions totaled less than $5,000, was not required to file a campaign finance report.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 28

1986 VOTER REGISTRATION

Democratic 155,890

Republican 41,087

American Independent 1,668

Peace and Freedom 964

Libertarian 695

Other Parties 296

No Party 14,016

Total 214,616

1980 VOTING AGE POPULATION

Total 395,349

Black 37%

White 31%

Latino 24%

Asian 8%

1980 TOTAL POPULATION

526,993 households

60% family

33% with children

39% married couples

67% of housing units rented

Median monthly rent, $198

Median house value, $82,600

THE CANDIDATES

Democrat Julian Dixon

Republican George Adams

Libertarian Howard Johnson

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