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Grisham-Green Battle Looms for Senate Seat

February 05, 1987|STEVEN R. CHURM | Times Staff Writer

The race for the 33rd state Senate District has narrowed to a showdown between the G-men--Assemblyman Wayne Grisham (R-Norwalk) and Norwalk City Councilman Cecil N. Green, a Democrat.

In the days leading up to this week's filing deadline for the special March 17 election, several candidates in both parties dropped out, setting up the Grisham-Green confrontation.

Six others are also in the race to replace Sen. Paul Carpenter, who resigned after winning a seat on the State Board of Equalization, but none is expected to mount a serious challenge.

On Monday, Grisham's candidacy received a boost when former Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Margaret Vineyard bowed out. Vineyard and Cerritos Mayor Don Knabe, who earlier withdrew from the race, were considered Grisham's top Republican challengers. Both Vineyard and Knabe said Monday that they will endorse Grisham, 63, a two-term assemblyman.

Like Knabe, Vineyard cited party unity as the reason for withdrawing from the race. "My staying in the race would only split the Republican vote," said Vineyard, who came close to beating Carpenter in 1984. "Now I think Wayne has a good chance of taking this seat in the primary. Besides, I think it's better to keep this one big, happy family."

Vineyard denied that she had been pressured by state GOP leaders to step aside, although she did say she had a number of discussions with Senate Republicans about her chances in the race. Knabe bowed out after Gov. George Deukmejian met with the Cerritos mayor and Grisham, urging one of the two to withdraw to avoid a costly campaign.

Both Could Run

Should Grisham win the Senate seat, Vineyard said, she will run for his 63rd Assembly District seat. "I have already called my sign maker," she said, "and told him to switch the numbers from 33rd to 63rd . . . ."

Knabe is also considered a potential candidate for Grisham's Assembly seat, but the aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Deane Dana stopped short of announcing his candidacy.

On the Democratic side of the Senate contest, Green's top two rivals, former Cypress Mayor Otto Lacayo and retired Downey Municipal Judge Leon Emerson, also dropped out on Monday. Emerson, who has joined forces with Green as the campaign vice chairman, said he was unable to raise enough money to finance "a credible race." Lacayo said it would be difficult to overcome Green's broad base of support, including key endorsements from Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) and Carpenter.

Like Carpenter, Lacayo is a longtime Cypress resident, but the two have not been close since they ran against each other for the Assembly in 1974.

"He's had an ax to grind with me for some time," Lacayo said of Carpenter, "and it is clear that if I had stayed in the race, he would have done what he could have to defeat me."

Unlike Emerson, Lacayo said he will not endorse Green because that "would be an endorsement for Carpenter, and I won't do that."

Some believe that Emerson is positioning himself for a run at the Assembly should Grisham win, but he said at this point, "I'm concentrating on getting Cecil elected." Lacayo, however, said he will spend the next year gathering support for another try at the 33rd Senate seat in the June, 1988, primary.

David Hayes, a trustee in the South Whittier School District, is the only other Democrat in the race. The retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy said he decided to stay in the race "to give the people a choice." He acknowledged that some state Democrats are upset that he did not join Emerson and Lacayo on the sidelines, leaving Green as the lone Democrat in the race.

Hayes, a first-time candidate, summed up his chances this way: "No doubt it's an uphill battle, but it will give me some experience." He said he might also run for Grisham's Assembly seat.

Other GOP Candidates

The other Republicans are R. O. Davis, a Buena Park businessman; Verner S. Waite, a Cypress physician, and David Shapiro, a Cypress political science student. Also running are photojournalist Lee Connelly, a Buena Park Libertarian, and court service officer Ed Evans, a Peace and Freedom Party member who lives in Cypress.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in March, there will be a runoff in May among the top vote-getters from each party.

Registration in the district is 53.8% Democratic and 38% Republican. But the district, which lies 25% within northwest Orange County and 75% within southeast Los Angeles County, is regarded as a political tossup because GOP voters traditionally are more loyal to their candidates and go to the polls in heavier numbers than Democrats.

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