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Orange County 1988 : A Look at the Year Ahead : POLITICS : Lungren's Move May Cause Chain Reaction

December 28, 1987|Claudia Luther \f7

County Republicans were facing the prospect of a quiet year in 1988 on the local political scene until the recent appointment of Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach) as state treasurer.

Now there is the prospect of an open congressional race and ripples in county and city politics.

There are a lot of "ifs." But here's how the scenario goes:

Lungren is confirmed by the Legislature in January. (This is in question.) County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, who is thinking seriously of running for Lungren's seat, wins against the other announced GOP candidate, Assemblyman Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro). About 38% of Lungren's district, which is heavily Republican, is in Orange County.

Gov. George Deukmejian appoints Wieder's replacement until the 1990 election. Mentioned so far in such speculations is Huntington Beach Mayor John Erskine, an ambitious young Republican who is executive director of the Orange County Chapter of the Building Industry Assn.

Then , if Erskine moved on, there would be a new Huntington Beach mayor . . . and the beat goes on.

On the Democratic side, the focus is on presidential politics. (Democratic registration is 35.3%, contrasted with 54.5% for Republicans. That means there's little action for Democrats in local partisan offices.)

Like the rest of the nation's, the county's Democrats are watching to see if Gary Hart's surprising re-entry into the race on Dec. 15 has staying power.

Hart had wide support in the county in his 1984 bid, gathering $250,000 in campaign contributions and winning 22 of the county's 23 Democratic delegates at the national convention. He was well on his way to being the county's favorite Democratic 1988 candidate when he dropped out of the race seven months ago.

Hart's return could give county Democrats a much-needed focus in 1988.

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