SACRAMENTO — If U. S. Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach) is named state treasurer, two veteran Republican Assemblymen--Dennis Brown of Signal Hill and Gerald N. Felando of San Pedro--said Thursday they would seek his seat.
Once Gov. George Deukmejian picks his nominee, the Legislature must approve the selection. Political sources have suggested that the list of nominees to succeed Jesse Unruh, who died Aug. 4, has been narrowed to Lungren and Senate Minority Leader Ken Maddy (R-Fresno).
Lungren, who first won the seat in 1978, coasted to reelection last year with 73% of the vote in the solidly Republican 42nd Congressional District, which stretches from Torrance and the Palos Verdes Peninsula south through Long Beach and western Orange County.
Even though Lungren's appointment is uncertain, Brown and Felando already are preparing to wage a spirited fight in a special election next year.
"I'm going to go if Lungren is nominated," declared Felando, 52, a dentist who was elected to the Legislature in 1978. Four years later, after district lines were redrawn, Felando outdistanced Marilyn Ryan in the GOP primary. Ever since, he has easily won reelection.
Felando, known for his combative style, is considered a more moderate conservative than Brown. Felando is now the Assembly Republican caucus chairman, the No. 2 position in the GOP leadership.
His 51st Assembly District includes Manhattan Beach, part of Redondo Beach, Torrance, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and a small section of San Pedro.
Brown, 38, also took his seat in 1978. He is regarded as one of the Assembly's most conservative members and a close ally of Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale). Brown's 58th District includes Signal Hill, part of Long Beach, Seal Beach and part of Huntington Beach.
Brown, who previously said there was a strong chance he would run, reported that he made up his mind in the past few weeks. "I have made the decision to be a candidate and run for the seat," he said.
Brown said Nolan has not attempted to dissuade him from seeking Lungren's seat. But, he speculated, "I'm sure from Pat Nolan's standpoint and the leadership of our caucus they'd hate to have to go out and look for new candidates" for the Assembly. "They'd probably rather that not happen."
Felando said that he had heard rumors from lobbyists and others in the capital that some politicians were lobbying against Lungren's appointment, hoping to prevent a costly and bitter Felando-Brown contest that would force Republican lawmakers to choose sides.
But, Felando said, "Caucus loyalties have been split in the past and it seems that we always come back and work together, and I would assume that would happen again."