Deputy Dist. Atty. William W. Bedsworth took the lead in early returns Tuesday night against Harbor Municipal Court Commissioner Robert H. Gallivan in the only Superior Court race in Orange County. Bedsworth led 52% to Gallivan's 48%.
In North Municipal Court, Judge Betty L. Elias, the only incumbent forced into a November runoff, took a solid lead in early returns with 56% of the vote to 44% for Santa Ana attorney James A. Bates. Riverside Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger B. Robbins made a strong showing in early returns, leading North Municipal Court Commissioner Richard E. Behn for the only other North Court seat on the ballot, 55% to Behn's 45%.
In Central Municipal Court, Deputy Dist. Atty. James M. Brooks had the lead by a razor-thin margin in early returns over Long Beach deputy prosecutor Paul S. Robbins in a race for the seat vacated by Judge Bobby D. Youngblood.
Bedsworth, 38, and Gallivan, 52, agreed that the only real issue between them was whether Bedsworth's criminal experience outweighed Gallivan's expertise in civil law.
Bedsworth and Gallivan are friends who agreed that both are well qualified to sit on the bench. They also agreed before the June primary that Bedsworth might have an edge in the November race because of the prosecutor's title next to his name.
But when Gallivan was appointed a Harbor Municipal Court commissioner after the June primary, he hoped his new title would offset Bedsworth's advantage.
Both Opposed Bird
Both candidates had opposed state Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird. But Bedsworth's strategy when he entered the race was that an anti-Bird vote would more likely help a prosecutor on the ballot, since prosecutors had helped lead the fight against her confirmation.
"If these numbers hold up, I will freely admit that the Bird issue helped me," an elated Bedsworth said Tuesday night.
In the Municipal Court races, the most bitter of the three contested races was between Brooks and Paul Robbins. Each sued the other over claims of false accusations, and each maintained the other had misled voters about his qualifications.
Brooks, 49, claimed that Robbins should have listed himself on the ballot as a deputy city prosecutor handling misdemeanor cases for Long Beach, not simply a "senior" prosecutor. But Robbins, 45, charged that Brooks misled voters about his own record as a deputy district attorney. He also claimed that Brooks had been passed over by many younger deputy prosecutors.
Difficult to Unseat
Elias, 59, was the only incumbent to face a challenger. But she outspent Bates almost 2 to 1, and incumbent judges in Orange County are rarely defeated.
Bates, 42, had pinned his hopes on voter reaction to Elias' ruling that drunk-driving checkpoints in Anaheim are unconstitutional. A state appellate court agreed with the ruling, but Bates was convinced that voters still would be upset enough to vote her out of office.
Elias, appointed in 1976 and elected in her own right in 1980, said Tuesday night: "I'm no politician, I just do the best I can. But I've been amazed at the number of people who have come out to support me in this race."
Roger Robbins, 49, and Behn, 45, had the least controversial race. Neither criticized the other and Behn made no issue of the fact that Robbins works in Riverside County.