When Los Angeles County Supervisor Deane Dana holds his annual summer fund-raiser later this year, he will have some good news for his supporters. The powerful labor forces that tried to oust him in 1984 have apparently given up the fight.
William Robertson, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said his 700,000-member organization has no plans to oppose Dana in his 1988 reelection bid. Robertson said organized labor may even endorse Dana, a Republican who controls the vast coastal territory from Malibu to Long Beach.
"The labor movement is not going to spearhead any movement to provide opposition to Deane Dana," Robertson said Tuesday. "He has been a relatively good county supervisor in the sense that he certainly hasn't attacked labor."
Robertson's labor organization was among the strongest backers of former county Assessor Alexander Pope, a Democrat who challenged Dana in 1984. By electing Pope, union forces had hoped to shift the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors from the Republicans to the Democrats. Although elections for the board are nonpartisan, the contests usually break along party lines.
Robertson said Pope's poor showing--he captured 36% of the vote to Dana's 57%--convinced labor that Dana has a firm grip on the post. "I can't see anybody out there who would be a formidable opponent," Robertson said.
Democratic leaders in the 4th Supervisory District, who had portrayed Dana as a pawn of big-money interests, also claimed to be unaware of any strong contenders for the supervisor's job. Some even credited Dana with strengthening his base of support in the broad and diverse district.
"He is very strong and he has worked parts of the district very well," said U. S. Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica). "He has been a critic of offshore oil drilling even though the Reagan Administration wants it, which is real important to that district. And he has also worked within the communities."
"I am not aware of any deep-seated dissatisfaction with what (Dana) is doing," said Long Beach City Auditor Robert Fronke, who was once mentioned as a possible Democratic contender for the job. "There are no big problems."
Dana has not officially declared himself as a candidate for reelection, but sources close to his office said the 60-year-old supervisor will definitely seek a third term. He is expected to formally announce in January.
Dana had no comment Wednesday on labor's possible backing of his candidacy. In an earlier telephone interview, Dana said he assumes that there will be a Democratic contender in the 4th District race, but he declined to speculate on who it might be. "I haven't heard any names mentioned," Dana said.
The county supervisor acknowledged that he is off to a strong head start financially. He has already raised about $1 million and will solicit more campaign donations in the months ahead. Democratic activists said anyone who opposes Dana will need to start raising large sums of money immediately.
Several Democrats have been named as possible contenders. The most notable is Los Angeles City Controller Rick Tuttle. Tuttle, who has close ties to the Westside's powerful political organization headed by U. S. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), said he has not given the idea serious consideration. "I've been pretty busy," Tuttle said. "I appreciate being thought of. But the fact is I haven't focused on it."
Another possible Democratic contender is Roger Carrick, a party activist who was an assistant attorney general under state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and the California coordinator for the Hands Across America campaign.
Carrick, a private attorney who lives in Santa Monica, said he has been asked to consider running by several people but is uncommitted.
"I have been approached and asked to think about it," Carrick said. "And you always like to be responsive to your friends. But that's all it is at this point. People have approached me and I am thinking about their suggestions."
Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-Long Beach) also has been mentioned as a possible contender by some Democrats. Elder, however, has expressed no interest and said he would be surprised if any stiff competition emerged.
But there are some Democrats who refuse to give up hope. "Deane Dana doesn't have any image with the voters," said one prominent Westsider who asked that his name not be used. "And a well-financed candidate could shape Dana's image for him. It would be very easy to define Dana as the bumpkin puppet of the development community. With the anti-development fervor, he is vulnerable."
"We don't have a supervisor, we have a king," said Madelyn Glickfeld, a well-known Malibu environmentalist. "An experienced, identifiable candidate with some financial resources could mount a very serious campaign here."