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Hastings Says GOP Support Too Weak : Burbank Mayor Won't Challenge Berman for Congress

January 27, 1988|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

Blaming a lack of support from the Republican Party, Burbank Mayor Michael R. Hastings said Tuesday he has decided not to challenge Democratic Rep. Howard L. Berman for his congressional seat this year.

Hastings, 34, said he would not rule out such a challenge in the future and may be interested in seeking some other higher office at the end of his four-year term on the Burbank City Council. That term, his first experience in public office, will end next year.

"Right now, it would take a tremendous act of God and a tremendous show of support from the Republican Party for me to change my mind," said Hastings, who described himself as an independent, moderate Republican.

"I made this decision because of my agenda for Burbank, my family, my career and a total lack of commitment from the Republican Party," Hastings said. "The party does not have an organization that can get behind new candidates and give support services and guidance."

Hastings said in November that he had been approached by "quite a few people in the Republican Party" about challenging Berman in the 26th Congressional District. But he said the enthusiasm cooled when he questioned his ability to raise an initial $50,000.

"So many people came to me at first and told me, 'If anybody can beat Berman, you can,' " Hastings said. "But, when the money issue came up, all they said was, 'Oh.' "

He said he would need the support of the party and guidance on finances and strategy in a battle against Berman. "I don't have the expertise, and I'm willing to admit that," he said. "But, with the right support services to back me up, which the party should have, I would have a much better chance."

Hastings said he wanted to become involved in forming such a organization within the party. "I want to work to attract people into the political limelight," he said.

Berman is a three-term incumbent and a proven fund-raiser. He normally faces poorly financed GOP opponents, and was elected with 65% of the vote in 1986.

Challenging Berman would have been an uphill battle for Hastings, an advertising and public relations executive. The district is predominantly Democratic, and more than half of it lies outside Burbank. The district is divided between the East San Fernando Valley and the Westside.

Hastings, who was appointed last May by his colleagues to be mayor for one year, has emerged as one of Burbank's more colorful and self-confident politicians. He was instrumental in Burbank's adoption of the first ban in the nation on the sale of toy guns that resemble real weapons.

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