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Statehouse Incumbents Gliding Past Opponents' Poorhouse Campaigns

November 02, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

Backed by sizable campaign contributions, incumbents in eight area Assembly and two state Senate races go into Tuesday's general election with tail winds at their backs.

Fighting the incumbents, challengers have generally failed to raise either much money or interest for their campaigns. In fact, in many of the races, the challengers have not been able to raise even a hundredth of the amount the incumbents have raised.

For instance, Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) has raised about $315,000, while her Republican opponent raised just $3,632.

"It is tough," said Norwalk Mayor Bob White, who is challenging Assemblyman Wayne Grisham (R-Norwalk).

Although White has been the most successful challenger in fund raising--collecting more money for his campaign than all the other legislative challengers in the area combined--he has raised only about one-third of the amount raised by Grisham.

Here is a look at the legislative campaigns:

47th Assembly District

Incumbent Teresa P. Hughes (D-Los Angeles) has represented this heavily black and Latino area since 1975. Her Republican opponent is attorney Victor L. Brown.

The district, which includes parts of central Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Bell and Cudahy, has more than 70,000 registered Democrats and less than 10,000 Republicans.

Brown has raised less than $500, while Hughes has raised more than $104,000, according to campaign finance reports.

In spite of the odds, Brown, 40, said, "I'm very optimistic. It is a long struggle."

Brown said that if elected, he would work to bring in more business. He said he would do that by setting up federal enterprise zones, which would give tax incentives to businesses remaining in or relocating to the area.

The Republican challenger said he would also help reduce crime. Brown said he believes much crime is drug-related, so he would encourage drug intervention programs to be operated by area block clubs and churches.

"I realize the danger of mingling church and state, but I think there should be an intervention program through the churches and funded by the state to aid and educate people on drugs," Brown said.

Hughes did not return repeated calls to her office by The Times.

48th Assembly District

Assemblywoman Waters appears confident that she will again be easily reelected.

"I'm doing what I always do. I campaign all year long throughout my district, working for what is needed," said Waters, who is known as an outspoken and combative legislator who champions liberal, minority and women's causes.

Waters, 48, said she is particularly proud of a job development and training program for housing projects in her district. Project Build, she said, provides job-training skills to tenants and also helps them find jobs. The program, which is state funded, received $250,000 last year and is due to receive about $350,000 this year, she said.

By mid-October, Waters reported that she had raised more than $300,000. Republican challenger Ezola Foster raised $3,632. Waters has spent less than $15,000 toward her reelection but contributed more than $250,000 to the campaign of her son, Edward K. Waters, a Democrat, who is running against Republican Paul E. Zeltner in the hotly contested 54th Assembly District race. The assemblywoman said she has always made contributions to Democratic candidates, especially women Democrats.

Foster, 48, is an English and business teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She said Waters has not done enough in education, crime and employment. For instance, she said, too many young people are unemployed, while Waters "has failed to speak out about the devastating impact of illegal aliens undercutting our youth from entry-level positions in industry."

Waters, Foster charged, has "financed her own political agenda" at the expense of the district.

Libertarian Jose Castaneda, 27, is also a candidate. "I'm running to get the Libertarian issues across to the voters," Castaneda said. Castaneda said he advocates an educational tax credit of $2,000 for parents to send their children to the school of their choice.

The 48th District includes portions of South Los Angeles, South Gate, Watts, Walnut Park and Lynwood.

52nd Assembly District

Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier), 32, has captured his seat handily since he was first elected in 1982, winning by more than 30,000 votes each time.

Hill had raised more than $280,000 according to the most recent filing deadline for campaign disclosure statements. Democrat Judith Prather reported raising a little more than $7,000.

But Prather, 42, a psychologist and lecturer at Whittier College, said she is not dismayed by being outspent. "That's the way it is with incumbents and challengers," she said.

Prather said she is running because she believes she would be a more responsive legislator. Prather said major issues in the district are toxic waste and education.

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