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Assemblyman Brown Bows Out : Door Open for Wieder to Run for House Seat

December 10, 1987|CLAUDIA LUTHER | Times Political Writer

A Long Beach area assemblyman's decision Wednesday not to run in the anticipated 42nd Congressional District race may be an unexpected boon for Orange County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, a Republican who is exploring a possible run for the seat.

"I think that there's no doubt that this opens the door for Harriett to make a real strong run for the congressional seat," said an Orange County Republican political consultant who asked not to be identified.

But, ultimately, Wieder's decision on whether to run will probably be decided on other factors, such as campaign finances, the political consultant said.

Accedes to Nolan

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Dennis Brown (R-Signal Hill) announced that he would accede to the wishes of Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) and avoid an election battle with Assemblyman Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro).

Felando had also announced his intention to run for the seat now held by Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach). Lungren was named as Gov. George Deukmejian's choice to succeed state Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, who died Aug. 4. The appointment still must be affirmed by the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.

Brown, whose district straddles Orange and Los Angeles counties and who lives in Rossmoor in northern Orange County, would have split the support of local Republican Party activists, according to the GOP political consultant and Republican pollster Arnold Steinberg. On the other hand, Felando, whose district is wholly in Los Angeles County, would likely draw his support from his own county, they said.

According to the 1980 census, about 62% of the congressional district's residents live in Los Angeles County and the rest in Orange County. Wieder has said that 45% of the GOP voters in the district, which is predominantly Republican, live in Orange County. But a Democratic political consultant, Harvey Englander, said that by analyzing voting patterns, he has determined that 55% of "high-propensity" voters, or those most apt to go to the polls, live in Orange County.

Steinberg said that if Wieder does run and is the only Orange County candidate, "then she certainly has a base she does not share with Felando." But, he added, this may be unimportant in the end because there is "much more to the race" than geography.

Issue of Money

Perhaps the most important issue will be finding adequate funds to run under stricter federal campaign financing laws. It is not clear at this point, for example, how much of Wieder's current campaign treasury of $166,000 could be utilized for a federal race.

Wieder said Wednesday that Brown's decision will not affect her own.

"I would have proceeded as I'm proceeding now," said Wieder, 67, a nine-year member of the Board of Supervisors who lives in Huntington Harbour.

Wieder said a "bunch of people"--enough to fill three pages of a yellow legal pad--are "excited about my even entertaining that idea" of running for Congress.

But "that's not enough, either," Wieder said. She said she is still balancing her effectiveness as a supervisor to what she could do as a congresswoman and is looking at the district's demographics. Also, she said, she is assessing whether she could raise the more than $500,000 she thinks is necessary to mount a campaign.

Wieder said that, in any case, she believes that it would be premature to announce her candidacy for a seat that is not yet vacant, pending Lungren's confirmation by the Legislature.

"I'm not much along the road of giving you a definitive answer like the boys did," Wieder said, referring to Brown and Felando.

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