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Incumbents Look Strong in State, National Contests : Challengers Face Uphill Struggles in Most Glendale-Northeast Races

November 03, 1988|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Tuesday's election in Glendale and northeast Los Angeles is shaping up as a tale of the Republican North and Democratic South that has both sides fighting contests on their own turf with neither expected to lose.

The northern portion of the area is predominantly Republican, the southern portion predominantly Democratic. Past redistricting has neatly drawn legislative and congressional districts to give overwhelming advantage to the incumbents of both parties. Name recognition and the ability to attract campaign contributions that in some cases exceed half a million dollars further establish the supremacy of the incumbents.

In the heavily Democratic legislative districts covering Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park, Assembly incumbents Burt Margolin, Richard Polanco and Mike Roos and state Sen. David A. Roberti are feeling little pressure from their challengers. Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Edward R. Roybal also face little opposition.

Republican Stronghold

On the other hand, Republicans are confident of victory in districts to the north covering the traditionally conservative communities of Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta. Republicans holding seemingly safe seats are Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead, state Sen. Newton R. Russell and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan.

From their apparently invincible positions, several incumbents of both parties have felt free to direct their time and money to other districts where the real battle this election year--over control of the Assembly in Sacramento--is being fought. For them, the suspense of Tuesday night will be in such places as Norwalk and Bellflower where political transition is not out of the question.

A gain of a couple of key seats could keep the eroding power of Democratic Speaker Willie Brown Jr. intact; a swing the other way could turn command of the Assembly over to the conservative bloc.

Few Skirmishes

Meanwhile, on the static political landscape at home, incumbents of the Glendale-northeast area have been called upon to fight few skirmishes, and those few that occurred tended more toward posturing than engagement.

To no one's surprise, there was no debate. The League of Women Voters tried to arrange one for five races in the Glendale-Pasadena area. The challengers all accepted. The incumbents all declined.

Other 1988 election sidelights: a gay Republican challenger was picketed by members of his own party; a respected Latino organization spurned Latino Assemblyman Polanco to endorse his Peace and Freedom Party challenger; a third-time Democratic challenger was unable to gain any advantage from an FBI investigation of Nolan, and a political novice has closed her campaign with a burst of spending almost equaling that of the still apparently unshakable Russell.

Following are profiles of the local races.

22nd Congressional

Democrat John G. Simmons has come back for his second campaign against Moorhead (R-Glendale), who is seeking his ninth term in the House of Representatives.

Simmons claims he has greater name recognition now in the 22nd Congressional District than he did 2 years ago, when he received only 23% of the vote to Moorhead's 74%.

Simmons, 71, is a retired minister and former hospital administrator. He has been involved in health-care programs and shelters for the homeless.

As a liberal, Simmons acknowledged that he has little chance of winning in a district with only 35.2% Democratic registration. More than 55% of the voters are Republican.

The district covers portions of the San Gabriel Valley, including Monrovia, Temple City and South Pasadena, as well as Burbank, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta. It also takes in territory in the northern end of the county from the cities of Santa Clarita to Palmdale.

Simmons said he expects to raise and spend about $20,000 on his campaign, which is little ammunition against Moorhead, who has more than $600,000, according to official campaign finance reports. Aides said Moorhead plans to spend about $100,000 on the race, a portion of which will be used for mailers to his 600,000 constituents.

Moorhead, 66, is a lawyer and has held public office since he was elected to the state Assembly in 1966. He has served in the House since 1972 and is dean of California's 18-member GOP caucus in Congress. Moorhead cites among his accomplishments measures to increase border patrols to cut down on trafficking of narcotics, expansion of the federal prison system and development of alternative motor fuels.

Simmons criticizes Moorhead as "the stealth incumbent--he never does anything."

Also on the ticket are Ted Brown, a Libertarian, and Shirley R. Isaacson of the Peace and Freedom Party.

24th Congressional

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