Politics in the 53rd District is not for the fainthearted.
It rarely is around Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd, a three-term Democrat who is famous in the Legislature for uninhibited verbal combat.
Roger E. Fiola, the Republican who is challenging Floyd in the Nov. 4 election, has asserted that the 55-year-old Floyd is soft on crime, supports embattled state Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, doesn't represent the views of the district, takes down opponents' campaign posters, bullies opponents' contributors, interferes with opponents' business relationships and is bankrolled by special interests.
Despite a 2-to-1 advantage in registration and a $200,000 edge in campaign contributions, Floyd does not take such talk from his opponent lightly.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 26, 1986 Home Edition South Bay Part 9 Page 4 Column 2 Zones Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
A story about the 53rd Assembly District that appeared in the South Bay section on Thursday inadvertently included a map of the 49th Assembly District. The correct map of the 53rd District appears above.
GRAPHIC-MAP: ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 53
Fiola, he retorted, is "a wimp . . . a liar . . . a clown . . . a carpetbagger . . . despicable." Last week, Floyd filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission accusing Fiola of failing to report campaign contributions.
Not surprisingly, each candidate denies the other's charges.
Watching the fray with amused detachment is Antoinette Kramer, the candidate of the tiny Peace and Freedom Party, who conceded: "I know I don't have a chance in hell.
"I am sitting back and laughing at my opponents. All they are doing is attacking each other."
The setting for this bare-knuckle brouhaha is a largely working-class district in the South Bay that includes Carson, Hawthorne, Lawndale and part of north Redondo Beach.
But Kramer is not quite right about her opponents. Occasionally, they have taken time off from their attacks to answer each other.
The incumbent, citing thousands of dollars in contributions he has received from law enforcement groups, demanded to know how he can be considered soft on crime "when I am supported by every peace officer in the state."
Asked about special-interest support, Floyd, chairman of the Assembly's Labor and Employment Committee, acknowledged in an interview that he has received many contributions from labor, but asserted that he has occasional disagreements with labor leaders that demonstrate his independence.
'My Goodness Gracious'
Floyd answered Fiola's charge about taking down opponents' campaign signs with obvious sarcasm. "My goodness gracious, they ought to hang a guy who takes down signs," he said. "It's funny that some of the Fiola signs are hanging where Floyd signs were last week.
"I haven't taken down signs in years but I am going to walk out of here and take down a few signs just so (Fiola) won't be a liar. . . . The guy's a wimp, that's all there is to it. This district has never been represented by a wimp."
Fiola denied being a carpetbagger. "I have lived in the district for 1 1/2 years and at this address since last January," he said. "I have met all the legal requirements."
Responding to Floyd's complaint about campaign finance reporting, Fiola press spokesman John Lawrence said the campaign had satisfied all legal requirements and that Floyd had filed the complaint "to deflect attention from his liberal record."
Fiola's last campaign finance statement, which by law is supposed to list all contributions and expenditures through Sept. 30, stated that he has received less than $500. Lawrence said that since Oct. 1, the campaign has received more contributions and has sent out two mailings costing about $30,000.
Floyd asserted that the contributions must have been received before Oct. 1 because of the lead time needed for printing such mailings. Lawrence denied this but declined to release details about the mailings or contributions in advance of the next campaign finance statement, which is due today, charging that "Floyd is notorious for bullying businesses for doing business with opponents . . ."
Pressed for details, Lawrence said he had none. "We just prefer to play it safe," he said. "We would like to keep him in the dark as long as possible."
"I don't know what they are talking about on that," Floyd said. "I have never been accused of bullying anybody." In declining to discuss campaign contributions, he said, Fiola's organization is "playing games. Apparently there is something they are hiding from the public."
Floyd, a graduate of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, is a classic example of a capital insider who returned to his hometown base and got elected.
Former Aide to Dills
A longtime aide to state Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D--Gardena), Floyd grew up in Lawndale and still maintains his residence there. He was first elected to the state Legislature in 1980, wresting what had been a Republican seat from Paul Bannai with the assistance of the Westside political organization of U.S. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D--Los Angeles) and Howard L. Berman (D--Panorama City), who was then a California assemblyman. In 1984, Floyd defeated Republican Walter R. Mueller with 59% of the vote.