Anaheim Mayor Don R. Roth and Mayor of Orange Jim Beam were locked in a seesaw battle to become county supervisor, a race that saw the lead change hands several times as ballot counting continued late into the night Tuesday.
Beam registered 50.8% of the vote to Roth's 48.8% in early returns. Both sides predicted a nail-biting finish. As the lead switched hands during the evening, Beam told supporters in his hotel suite, "It's going to be a long night."
Roth pronounced himself "optimistic."
Campaign Was Bitter
The voting marked the culmination of a bitter campaign that began with Roth and Beam calling each other friends but ended with them not speaking to one another.
Roth, 65, and Beam, 52, battled to succeed Ralph B. Clark, a one-time Anaheim gas station owner and mayor of Anaheim, who since 1970 has been supervisor from the 4th District that includes Anaheim, La Palma, Buena Park and part of Orange.
Beam finished first in the June 3 primary, narrowly edging past Roth but failing to win the 50% plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff. Former Rep. Jerry M. Patterson (D-Santa Ana), who moved into the district to run, finished third of four candidates after spending nearly $250,000.
Beam emerged from the primary with momentum, but in subsequent months Roth rallied. Patterson endorsed Beam, but Gene Autry, the famed singing cowboy of bygone movie days and owner of the California Angels, endorsed Roth.
Although the baseball team still is embroiled in a costly lawsuit with Anaheim, Autry's endorsement was mailed to district voters by the Roth campaign. Clark, too, endorsed Roth with less than a week left in the campaign, and Roth's backers sent that announcement to voters.
Spending Topped $1 Million
In the final two weeks of the campaign, both candidates raised money frantically, pushing the total cost of the campaign past the million-dollar mark.
Much of the money went for a flurry of political mailers sent to voters in the waning days of the race. A Beam piece denounced Roth for taking part in alleged "back room deals" and trumpeted that a vote for Beam was a "vote for honesty."
A Roth mailer said Beam was "a builder-developer" who "has run a campaign full of lies and distortions . . . ."
From the time both men announced in summer of 1985, their positions on most issues were similar: no jail near Anaheim Stadium, contrary to a decision of the Board of Supervisors; the need for solutions to the county's transportation problems, and good administration of the county's $1.4-billion annual budget.