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Around the Foothills

'This area isn't dead. But it needed some grooming.'

January 21, 1988|DOUG SMITH

The Glendale area's rock-solid bloc of Republican officeholders gave the political season a folksy christening Saturday, first from atop a boulder in Glendale, then from a mound of earth in La Canada Flintridge.

The four Republicans who share county, state and federal representation of the two cities kicked off their campaigns jointly in a package of rallies and precinct work.

Because all are just about sure bets to be reelected in November, they used the occasion to promote their party's presidential candidate, whoever that turns out to be, and to recruit Republican voters.

The first rally began about 9 a.m. in a chilly corner of Crescenta Valley Park, marked by a 3-foot-high stuffed elephant.

About 50 volunteers and political aides huddled around a picnic table when Harry Hull, president of the Glendale-Verdugo Republican Assembly, climbed onto a boulder to introduce Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead. Standing on the boulder, Moorhead briefly assessed the national picture.

"Everything indicates that our economy is alive and well and the economic programs we put in in the last few years are working well," said Moorhead, not known for stirring speeches.

State Sen. Newton R. Russell scaled the boulder next. He led off with a few jumping jacks and praised the teamwork between the area's Republicans.

"We have developed a cooperative working relationship that is really a delight," he said.

Then he deferred to Pat Nolan, the Assembly minority leader.

"Pat, we've already warmed up the rock for you," Russell said.

Nolan, almost too well dressed in a gray pinstripe suit, scaled the rock and assumed an oratorical pose.

"We stand on the bedrock of our principles," he said.

Nolan told an old political joke, then introduced his wife, Gail, along with what turned out to be the day's most substantial news.

"Gail and I are expecting a child," he said.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich arrived too late to take a turn on the rock. But, replacing Moorhead, who headed for a plane, he joined a caravan to a precinct that had been pre-selected because of its declining Republican registration.

Nolan aide Bob Haueter, who spent the morning shuttling politicians in his burgundy van, compared it to a rose garden in need of a pruning.

"This area isn't dead," Haueter said. "But it needed some grooming."

Antonovich and Russell bounded athletically from the van on Mayfield Avenue, a pleasant street with a rural feeling. Each, carrying a precinct list marked in yellow to indicate Republican households, led a small entourage of volunteers and aides from door to door.

By the end of the block they had left registration forms with a couple of possible recruits. But, at most doors, the duty was as tough as selling Great Books of the Western World.

Some people on their list didn't come to the door. Some had moved. Most said they were already registered.

Then Russell rang at a house that was issuing a strange noise.

One of his volunteers, a Glendale realtor, suggested moving on.

"I think he's in the shower," she said. "Either that or frying eggs."

Russell hung in and eventually a man's voice came through the door.

"I'm in the shower," he said. "I can't come out."

Russell autographed some campaign literature and wedged it in the door.

At another house, Antonovich led his group past several piles of neatly raked oak leaves under the umbrella of an impressive oak tree.

When a woman in a red knit cap answered the door, one of the volunteers praised the tree.

"You can have it, $1.50 delivered," the woman said, scowling at the leaves. "And you can do this every day."

About 11:30, the caravan headed for the day's second rally in La Canada Flintridge.

At a mildly repetitious rally amid a grove of oak trees overlooking Devil's Gate Reservoir, a mound of earth became the podium, producing a new line of humor.

"This is campaigning on the stump with the grass roots," Antonovich told another gathering of about 50.

The afternoon walk brought some livelier encounters. Nolan was about to leave one house when his knock set a couple of dogs into ferocious barking.

But their master quieted them and came to the door.

"Oh, hi, Pat," he said.

It turned out to be a divided household. The man, who was the Republican, asked for a registration form.

"I'll get my wife fixed," he promised.

"Your dog's got a healthy bark," Nolan volunteered on leaving.

"It's got a healthy bite, too, more importantly," the man said.

Later, following a trail of loud rock 'n' roll music into a garage, Nolan and Russell found a young man was working with his back to them.

They announced themselves several times and, finally, drew close enough to touch him.

He was neither startled by their presence nor disappointed that they were Republicans.

"I was afraid you were Jehovah's Witnesses," he said.

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