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Local Issues, Congressional Races Enter the Countdown : Incumbents Face Soft Opposition in Race for Congress

October 23, 1986|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Republican nominee John Almquist, who is seeking the congressional seat held by Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park), is not a conventional Republican candidate.

He assails "country-club Republicans," complains that President Reagan has not done enough about the imbalance in international trade and says Gov. George Deukmejian is insensitive to the plight of poor Latinos.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 26, 1986 Home Edition San Gabriel Valley Part 9 Page 2 Column 6 Zones Desk 2 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
A story in the Times' San Gabriel section Oct. 23 incorrectly stated that Charles M. House, Republican candidate in the 34th Congressional District race, has not been endorsed by the Republican Party. In fact, he has received endorsements from President Reagan, the California Republican Party and the California Republican Congressional delegation.

"A lot of Republican policies are good for people who have already made it, but may not be so good for people who are on the outside," Almquist said.

Willing to Oppose Reagan

If elected to Congress, he added, he will resist cuts in educational and social programs even if that puts him in opposition to his party and President Reagan.

"A congressman has to be an advocate for the local community," he said. "We have people who can't pay for their rent and food. We have the elderly being thrown out of their trailer parks and apartments."

Almquist is seeking election in the 30th Congressional District, which is 54% Latino and heavily Democratic, although the number of Democrats has slipped from 63% of the registered voters in 1982 to under 60% today.

Republicans poured more than $1 million into the race four years ago when reapportionment created the district and spent $160,000 in a losing effort two years ago when attorney Richard Gomez fell 10,000 votes short.

This time, Almquist said, he is getting no financial help from the national party. He said he has raised about $20,000 locally for his campaign.

Martinez has derided the Almquist effort, noting that Almquist "just recently moved into the district." Almquist lived in La Canada Flintridge before moving into the district after the primary election in June.

In addition, Martinez said, "The young man can't make up his mind what he's going to be."

Almquist, 28, listed himself as a businessman on the June ballot and a tax consultant on the November ballot. Actually, Almquist said, he obtained a law degree and a diploma in tax law from the University of San Diego in 1984 and has worked as a law clerk but has not passed the state bar exam. Currently, he is devoting full time to his campaign.

The Martinez-Almquist race, which also includes Libertarian candidate Kim J. Goldsworthy, is one of five congressional races in the San Gabriel Valley. In each case, incumbents have the advantage in political party registration and are heavily favored to win.

Almquist won the Republican nomination with an upset victory over Mike Radlovic, a 26-year-old real estate broker who had the support of party leaders.

Almquist attributed his victory to good fortune (his name appeared by chance on slate cards mailed to voters to promote candidates for other offices) and on hard work (he campaigned door-to-door).

Walking the District

For the general election, Almquist is walking residential areas in every city in the district, which stretches from Cudahy and Vernon northeast through Monterey Park, Alhambra and El Monte to Azusa.

His strategy is to demonstrate his compassion. "It is tragic," he said, that some people think that being a Republican is "to be only an advocate for the white upper-middle class."

Almquist has allied himself with local causes, such as opposition to a prison in East Los Angeles. In deciding to put a prison in an area that already has four correctional institutions and suffers from a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, Almquist said Deukmejian shows that "he doesn't realize what it is to be poor and Hispanic."

But while Almquist sees shortcomings in his own party's approach to the problems of the poor, he said the Democratic Party's promises to the poor have turned out to be empty.

Broken Promises

"The Democratic promises haven't come true," he said. "People don't have jobs. Their kids aren't going to college."

Almquist's program for improving life in the district includes upgrading California State University, Los Angeles by making it a campus of the University of California and creating "enterprise zones" by offering tax credits to businesses that will locate in job-depressed areas.

Martinez scoffed at the enterprise-zone suggestion, which has been promoted nationally by Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y), saying that offering tax incentives might lure plants to an area but would just shift the unemployment problem.

"You don't create jobs that way," he said. "You move them from one area to another."

Martinez said the Reagan Administration has failed to deal with unemployment.

Ignoring Home Front

"It's a sad thing that this Administration doesn't look at this domestic problem, it is so concerned with international relations," he said.

Martinez, 57, said he is running an all-out campaign with mailers, signs, phone calls and precinct-walking, even though his Republican opponent is not getting the kind of financial help that was available to past Republican nominees.

Martinez has raised $110,000 and spent $82,000 on political activities from last year through Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission.

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