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Naming Beverly Treasurer Would Cause a Scramble : Vacancy Has Politicians Figuring Odds

August 20, 1987|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

State Sen. Robert G. Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach) is one of many names being considered by the governor for appointment as state treasurer, but South Bay politicians are already speculating about who might replace him.

The talk is particularly strong because, if Beverly is appointed, it would be the first time in about a decade--when then Assemblyman Beverly defeated Democratic State Sen. Jim Wedworth to represent the redrawn district--that there would be no incumbent in the race.

And, under one scenario, an Assembly seat currently occupied by another longtime incumbent, Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro), could open up if he is elected to finish Beverly's term.

The potential for one or two open seats provides hope--albeit only a glimmer--for some South Bay Democrats, who have been shut out in the strong Republican districts for nearly 10 years.

Voter registration in Beverly's 29th Senate District is 48% Republican; in Felando's 51st Assembly District, it is 52%. Historically, more Republicans vote than Democrats.

No Preference for Successor

Beverly has expressed an interest in the state treasurer's job, if it is offered. He says he does not currently favor any particular candidate to replace him, adding that he feels that his district is a "pretty safe Republican seat."

Potential candidates will have to wait awhile. A spokesman for Gov. George Deukmejian said an appointment to replace state Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, who died of cancer Aug. 4, is not likely until after the current state legislative session ends Sept. 11. The Legislature, which will meet again in January, must approve the governor's appointment.

Senate leader David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) has said in the past that many of his colleagues would prefer someone who is not regarded as extremely partisan, and Beverly is said to be well-liked by both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.

The names of other GOP senators mentioned as treasurer candidates include Ken Maddy of Fresno, William Campbell of Hacienda Heights and John Seymour of Anaheim.

If Beverly is appointed, a sure candidate to replace him would be Felando, who has been in office since 1978. In a telephone interview this week he said that "without a doubt" he would seek to move up to the Senate if Beverly is appointed treasurer.

"I am doing everything I can to get him appointed," Felando said. "It has been nine years that I have been waiting" to move up to the Senate.

Felando's 51st Assembly District--which includes the beach cities, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Torrance--makes up the western half of the 29th Senate District. The eastern portion of the U-shaped Senate district includes San Pedro, Wilmington and parts of Long Beach and Signal Hill.

Long Beach City Councilwoman Jan Hall, who is chairwoman of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, has also been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the Senate seat, as has Assemblyman Dennis Brown (R-Signal Hill). Both said it is to early to say whether they would run.

Felando is considered a formidable candidate because his position as Republican caucus chairman would likely mean help from the Assembly leadership.

Tough Campaigner

Felando showed that he can be a tough campaigner when, in 1982, his district was cut out from under him through reapportionment and he was forced to run for a neighboring seat held by Marilyn Ryan, a fellow Republican who had represented the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the beach cities since 1976.

In a bitter primary race that included several personal attacks, Felando surprised political observers by defeating Ryan. Felando was reelected in 1984 and 1986.

Because of the Senate district's sizable Republican registration, Democrats have not run a strong candidate against Beverly. However, Ross Clark, an aide to Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who is the Assembly Democratic caucus chairwoman, said the party may back candidates for both the Senate and Assembly seats if they open up.

"It's too early to tell what kind of effort we will mount," Clark said.

But a political consultant said it would be nearly impossible for a Democrat to win either seat.

"There is not a Democrat who can win in the Senate or the Assembly (districts)," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Los Angeles-based Republican political consultant who has run all of Felando's campaigns and served as Beverly's chief of staff when Beverly was in the Assembly. "They are perceived as safe Republican seats. All the action will be in the (GOP) primary races."

The name most often mentioned in Democratic circles is former Torrance Mayor Jim Armstrong. After two four-year terms as mayor, Armstrong was forced to step down last year because the City Charter precludes a third term.

Armstrong, however, said he would not be a candidate.

"I'm retired," said Armstrong, who is now a lobbyist for a Torrance development company. "I might have considered it a few years ago when I was still in office, but I no longer have the high visibility or the campaign fund."

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