If ever there was an incumbent legislator who could safely bet on his reelection, it is Sen. Robert G. Beverly.
For more than 20 years, Beverly has been a political powerhouse along the South Bay's solidly Republican beachfront.
During his 12 years in the state Senate and nine years in the Assembly, the former practicing attorney has never faced a serious threat at the polls and never won an election with less than 66% of the vote.
Scarcely more three weeks before voters go to the polls, Beverly--who once was mayor of Manhattan Beach--has 400 times more money in his campaign treasury than his Democratic challenger, Jack Hachmeister.
The silver-haired lawmaker's image dominates billboards along heavily traveled arteries and his smaller campaign signs cling to telephone poles and fences from the South Bay's beach cities all the way to the Orange County line.
At least one mailer is likely to land in voters' mailboxes from El Segundo to upscale Belmont Shore before the 29th District campaign is over.
Wide Union Support
With endorsements from more than 125 local officials, including Democrats and Republicans, plus the support of powerful labor unions, which normally favor Democrats, Beverly is the embodiment of an entrenched incumbent.
That reality hasn't deterred his opponents, Hachmeister of Manhattan Beach and Libertarian Steve Kelley of Hermosa Beach, from running against Beverly for vastly different reasons.
Hachmeister said that Beverly does not provide the leadership in Sacramento that the district needs. "The man has been a state senator for 12 years. . . . He is a good guy but he hasn't done enough. He's been there and he's voted and that's basically all that he's done," Hachmeister said in an interview at his Gardena law office.
Libertarian Kelley takes a sharply different approach in his second challenge to Beverly. A copywriter for a Westside advertising agency, Kelley is running for philosophical reasons: he believes the two political parties do not really offer voters a choice.
Beverly has "not done all he could to cut taxes and get government out of our lives," Kelley said. "You should be able to live your life as you see fit, so long as you don't violate the rights of others."
In a sharp break from the mainstream, Kelley favors legalizing drugs and prostitution, lifting restrictions on pornography, ending zoning, and turning the public schools over to private business.
"Libertarians are running because there is just no alternative to higher taxes and bigger government," he said.
For his part, Beverly flashes a confident smile as he ponders the race. "It's been about the same in every election I've been in," he said in an interview at his Redondo Beach Senate office. "I'm optimistic."
A recent campaign poll showed that once you get beyond the South Bay, Beverly is not as well known. Because of redistricting he has represented the Long Beach-Signal Hill area for only half his Senate career. An effort is being made to "heighten the identification" with signs and billboards.
Needs GOP Turnout
"The big thing in this district is turnout," he said. "If we turn out the Republicans, we win." The largely white district is solidly Republican in registration and has a long history of voting for GOP candidates.
Beverly's base is so secure that he hasn't had a political fund-raiser since he was elected to the upper house in 1976. But special interest groups still pour money into his campaign coffers.
Without even asking for contributions, Beverly raised $74,425 so far this year, boosting his campaign war chest to $407,412 at the end of September, according to campaign records and his chief aide. He has spent $62,000 so far on this year's campaign.
After paying campaign bills, Hachmeister, who raised $5,630, had less than $1,000 left at the end of last month. He is using campaign material left over from the primary.
Kelley expects to spend less than $1,000 on his entire campaign.
Beverly's position as vice chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, and his membership on the Banking and Commerce, Governmental Organization and Transportation committees have sparked large contributions from well-heeled special interests.
Campaign statements show that bankers, doctors, growers, tobacco, insurance and oil companies, real estate developers, beer brewers and horse racing interests have contributed to Beverly's campaign this year.
The California League of Savings Institutions gave $4,000 this summer, topping a long list of banks and financial institutions. The California Real Estate Assn. political action committee also contributed $4,000 as did the California Medical Assn. The Assn. of California Insurance Companies contributed $3,500 and the California Bankers Assn. gave $3,000.
Beverly's voting record shows he is a moderate Republican, conservative on fiscal matters but sensitive to social concerns like funding for education.