SACRAMENTO — Republican Wayne Grisham, trounced last week in his bid for the state Senate, has removed himself from a rematch next year and has instead endorsed a longtime GOP rival, Cerritos City Councilman Don Knabe.
In announcing his support for Knabe, Grisham, a Norwalk assemblyman, said: "I think it's fair that I've had my shot at the Senate, and I think we should let Don run."
Knabe acknowledged that he is looking at next year's election but said he was caught off guard by Grisham's comments. Indeed, Knabe said Thursday, he was "surprised to hear it."
Grisham opened his campaign as the front-runner for the 33rd state Senate District but was beaten by Democrat Cecil N. Green, a Norwalk city councilman, who on Monday is expected to be sworn into his new job. Green, who will fill the seat vacated by Democrat Paul Carpenter, will face reelection next year.
Grisham's endorsement--issued Thursday after he returned to the Assembly--is the latest twist in the stormy relationship between Grisham and Knabe, two major GOP politicians in Southeast Los Angeles County whose ambitions regularly have clashed.
For example, in 1984 Knabe, chief deputy to county Supervisor Deane Dana, was a candidate for the 63rd Assembly District until Grisham, a former congressman, entered the race.
Then, earlier this year Knabe planned to run for the 33rd state Senate District seat after Carpenter was elected to the state Board of Equalization. But Knabe dropped out after meeting with Grisham and Gov. George Deukmejian in the governor's Capitol office.
Knabe said Thursday that even before Grisham's endorsement, he had been giving "serious consideration" to a campaign against Green. Knabe, whose council term expires next April and who is prohibited by law from seeking reelection, said he would make a decision by the fall. "That way I can enjoy the summer," he quipped.
Knabe said he is in no hurry to enter another campaign because his on-again, off-again effort early this year has left him upset with the political process.
"Obviously it was a situation that played with my life, my family's life and I feel pretty beaten up and it certainly makes you evaluate the process . . . and how those decisions are made," Knabe said.
Before he embarks on another campaign, Knabe said he would like to be assured that the Senate Republican leadership plans to commit heavy resources--money and staff--to capture the 33rd District seat. In the recent campaign, Senate Republicans helped Grisham raise at least $1 million. But Knabe cautioned "it's a different ballgame . . . there's an incumbent."
Meantime, Grisham said he plans to seek another term in the state Assembly in 1988 and, if he is reelected, to run again in 1990. After that, Grisham said, he probably will retire.
In his first post-election analysis of his loss, Grisham said his campaign was outgunned by the Democrats in the district, which includes Cerritos, Downey, Norwalk, Lakewood, Bellflower, South Whittier, Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens.
"At the end of the campaign, it didn't matter who the candidates were," Grisham said. "I think it became just a war between Democrats and Republicans, and when you go to war with somebody you'd better have a better, bigger army than they do."
Grisham cited the hundreds of volunteers, especially from labor unions, who walked precincts on election day on Green's behalf.