A trial balloon marked Sheriff Sherman Block for Mayor floated into public view Wednesday, and the might-be candidate said his campaign will either take off or come down probably in the next month.
Acknowledging that he is weighing a challenge against Mayor Tom Bradley in 1989, Block told reporters that he may seek the help of a pollster to determine whether he would be an electable candidate.
But the key question, Block said, is simply whether he wants the job. "I don't know. If the answer is not absolutely, unequivocally yes, nothing else will go forward," he said.
Discussions with his family, he said, will be a crucial factor. Another is a possible survey of voters. "I'm going to ask some people I have great confidence in whether they think that's something that should be undertaken," he said.
"I'm not an itinerant politician just looking for a new job . . . but it would be less than honest to say I'm not intrigued."
The sheriff, who will be 65 in 1989, would provide a Republican alternative in a race that until now has been forecast as a showdown between two Democrats, Bradley and Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. A personable man who is widely respected in the law enforcement community, Block has also proven popular with voters, having won two overwhelming--if essentially uncontested--elections for sheriff since his 1982 appointment to succeed Peter J. Pitchess.
Block said Bradley "over the years has done a very credible job, and enjoys a high level of respect. . . . One thing I've been hearing is there is a great deal of interest in change--just a matter, that maybe the time has come."
Bradley's political fate, Block said, is "almost predetermined," because voters have already made up their minds whether they want to reelect the mayor to a fifth four-year term.
Block confirmed a press report Wednesday that his interest in the mayor's job has been fueled by encouragement from a "quite a cross-section" of people in recent months, including Republican activists, organized labor officials and Latino leaders--none of whom he would name. "Some of the people might be viewed as being disloyal" to other political figures, he explained.
At a small, impromptu press conference, Block voiced several reservations about being a candidate. He said he isn't sure whether he would be willing to leave the Sheriff's Department, whether he should embark on a new career at his age, or how well he would function in an intensely political job, as opposed to the essentially administrative job he has now.
"I'm not looking for mountains to climb or dragons to slay," he said.
Block said he intends to make up his mind "soon."
"I'm not interested in playing games with anybody. The people in the community, and the people in the (Sheriff's) Department have a right to know what I plan to do." Later, he said he would likely make his decision "in the next month."