Although the area is one of the most solidly Republican in the state, three Democrats are vying for the right to take on the winner of the hotly contested GOP primary battle in the 42nd Congressional District.
Republicans hold a 52% to 37% lead in voter registration in the district, which has been represented for a decade by Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach). He is stepping down to pursue the state treasurer's post.
So far there has been no sign--in the form of contributions or the promotion of a well-known candidate--that the Democratic Party views the open seat as winnable in the fall.
Despite the long odds for any Democrat in November, self-described fiscal reformer Ada Unruh of Redondo Beach, political science instructor Guy Kimbrough of Huntington Beach and writer Dan Farrell of Sunset Beach are seeking the Democratic nomination.
In contrast to the eight-way Republican fight, the Democratic race has been low-key and low-budget, without the expensive signs and mailers that have marked the GOP contest.
None of the candidates has raised or spent $5,000, the threshold for filing a campaign contribution report with the Federal Election Commission.
Two of the candidates have received significant endorsements.
Unruh, 42, daughter-in-law of Jesse M. Unruh, the late state treasurer, is counting on the Unruh name and the endorsement of the political arm of the state AFL-CIO to win the votes of Democrats in the district.
Kimbrough, 43, is banking on his endorsement from the state Democratic Party to boost his chances.
Farrell, 46, is barely campaigning for the congressional seat, but is working on the presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Unruh said Thursday she does not live in the 42nd district, which stretches from Torrance around the Palos Verdes Peninsula across Long Beach to Huntington Beach and northwestern Orange County.
On her candidate papers, she used the Pacific Coast Highway address of her business in Torrance rather than her home address in Redondo Beach, which is outside the district.
"A mile or so from the district, big deal," Unruh said in an interview. "I've been in this community. I'm a part of the district. The fact is that a mile or so away is not germane."
The only residency requirement in the Constitution for congressional candidates is that they be residents of the state in which the district is located.
Unruh's campaign is based on pocketbook issues.
The head of her own Committee to Balance the Federal Budget with Fair Taxation, Unruh says the tax system would be simpler with a flat 10% tax on incomes above $10,000 with no deductions, exemptions or exclusions.
In lengthy campaign position papers, Unruh complains of overlapping taxation of individuals and businesses and calls for a return of power to the state level.
"The federal government was not designed to meet the needs of the individual," she writes. "It was designed to protect the individual's inalienable rights. The needs of the individual are to be addressed at the state level where we have more power through the petition/initiative process."
Unruh wants NATO allies and Japan to pay their fair share of common defense costs. She does not offer a firm position on President Reagan's space-based Strategic Defense Initiative.
"The idea of a shield is intriguing," she said in response to a questionnaire. "However, as to its viability, I must question whether it can work."
In the contested Democratic presidential race, Unruh initially refused to take sides. "I'll choose whomever the people choose," she said. But moments later, she said she favors Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.
A graduate of USC with a degree in political science and international relations, Unruh for a time went door-to-door selling memberships in a National Write Your Congressman Club, aimed at lobbying on various issues.
She said she opposes aid to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
Kimbrough is a political science instructor at Mt. San Jacinto College in San Jacinto.
An outspoken critic of the Reagan Administration and a Dukakis supporter, he tells audiences of his commitment to such domestic programs as Social Security and Medicare.
To cope with the budget deficit, he suggests possible tax increases including an oil import fee or a value-added tax with a tax credit or rebate to offset its impact on low-income Americans. An increase in personal and businesses taxes would be the last resort, he said.
Although he acknowledges the district's leading role in aerospace and defense, he said the nation has experienced "a very wasteful (defense) build-up that is excessive."
Kimbrough said he favors cutbacks in the stealth bomber and Trident submarine programs, but believes the B-1 bomber will be an important addition to the nation's air defenses. He would scale back the pace and size of the Strategic Defense Initiative.
He said he would like to see funding for a manned space station and a commitment to a 600-ship naval force.