Burbank Mayor Michael R. Hastings, a self-styled moderate Republican, says he may seek the GOP nomination to mount an uphill challenge to Democratic Rep. Howard L. Berman next year.
"I've been approached by quite a few people in the Republican Party," Hastings said this week. "I'm exploring it."
Hastings said he must determine whether he can raise the considerable money needed to wage a viable challenge and whether he would have time to perform his mayoral duties if he ran in the 26th Congressional District. He plans to make a decision in January, he said.
Hastings, 34, serving his first four-year term on the five-member Burbank City Council, was selected by his colleagues to serve a one-year term as mayor May 1. He also runs his own public relations and advertising firm.
Hastings' tenure as mayor has been eventful. Last spring, the Walt Disney Co. proposed a $611-million retail, entertainment and office complex in the city's downtown. The City Council was in the limelight again in September when it enacted the nation's first ban on the sale of toy guns that resemble real weapons.
Hastings, whose youthfulness and affinity for three-piece suits and jogging have earned him the sobriquet of Burbank's "Mr. Yuppie," has emerged as a self-confident and sometimes combative figure on the city's hurly-burly political landscape.
A Major Step
Challenging Berman, a three-term incumbent and proven fund-raiser in a heavily Democratic district, would be a major step, Hastings acknowledged. Berman and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) are the namesakes of a Westside political organization renowned for its ability to raise large sums of money.
Berman netted more than $250,000 at his annual fund-raiser in September. The Panorama City lawmaker, who generally faces poorly financed GOP opposition, was reelected with 65% of the vote in 1986.
Hastings said he would attempt to make Berman's political strengths--his organization, fund-raising and the safely Democratic district drawn especially for him by Democratic allies in 1981--campaign issues.
"I believe in the 'We, the people,' not 'We, the wallet,' " the mayor said. He also said he would contrast his "moderate conservative" philosophy with Berman's liberal record.
Berman could not be reached for comment.
If he runs, Hastings would not have the benefit of even a Burbank base. More than half of Burbank is outside the 26th District, which is divided between the east San Fernando Valley and the Westside.
Further, Hastings' residence is outside the district. He said he did not think this would be a campaign liability. Congressional candidates are not required to live in the district they seek to represent.
No other Republican has expressed interest in opposing Berman, Hastings said.
"One of the things that entices me is that everyone's afraid to run against the Berman-Waxman machine," Hastings said. "Just to hear things like that hits my hot button."