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Campaign Styles a Reflection of Candidates

May 10, 1990|MIKE WARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thirty-four-year-old Jim Brulte, a bachelor, doesn't have a lot of homey frills in his house in the Creekside section of Ontario.

Two of the three bedrooms have been converted into offices equipped with the tools of modern political technicians: telephones, computers and fax machines. At the touch of a computer button, Brulte can summon up the names of his supporters for the Republican nomination in the 65th Assembly District, see how much they have donated, and whether they have agreed to put a campaign sign in their yard or offered other aid.

Brulte's opponent, Pomona Councilman Mark A. T. Nymeyer, is running a primitive campaign by comparison--no computers, no database, no high-priced political expertise. "We're just entry-level politicians," Nymeyer said, as he discussed his election effort at his office at the Central Baptist Church in Pomona, where he is administrator and temporary pastor.

The room is full of pictures of Nymeyer's wife and four children and lined with books on Christianity and Abraham Lincoln.

Nymeyer stresses his family ties and his service in local government. By the end of the campaign, he said, "people will certainly know I am a married man and can relate to some of the problems they have."

Brulte, meanwhile, emphasizes his devotion to the Republican Party and his work for state and national leaders.

In his first run for political office, Brulte, who started working in political campaigns when he was 10, seems to have covered every base. He has sewn up key endorsements including that of the district's incumbent, Assemblyman Charles M. Bader (R-Pomona), who is giving up the seat to run for the state Senate. Brulte also has raised lots of money, hired a skilled political consultant and enlisted hundreds of volunteers.

Nymeyer, meanwhile, has been a paradox in his seven years on the City Council. He is the Baptist preacher who proposed a ballot measure to authorize poker parlors. He is the champion of business who suggested enactment of a payroll tax. He is the law-and-order man who voted to fire the police chief, antagonizing the Pomona Police Officers Assn., which made a point of endorsing his opponent.

The victor in the Republican primary will face Democrat Robert Erwin in November for what has been a Republican seat. Republicans outnumber Democrats, 50% to 40%, in the fast-growing 65th District, which stretches from Pomona south to Chino, east to Ontario and north through Rancho Cucamonga to Wrightwood in the mountains and Hesperia and Adelanto in the High Desert. More than half the Republican voters live in Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino. The district takes in half of the city of Pomona, which has less than 8% of the district's Republican vote.

Erwin, the only Democratic candidate on the primary ballot, is a counselor with the San Bernardino County Probation Department and owns a sandwich shop and catering business in Chino. His wife, Diane, is a member of the Chino City Council. "It's definitely an uphill battle, but it's a winnable seat" for a Democrat, Erwin said, adding that he expects to draw votes from veterans because he served in Vietnam and from abortion-rights advocates because he is the only candidate who describes himself as "pro-choice."

Brulte, who was Bader's chief of staff until he resigned in March to campaign full time, has been endorsed by every Republican mayor in the district, including Pomona's Donna Smith, as well as state Sen. Bill Leonard (R-Big Bear) and U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands). He also has strong financial backing from the district's powerful building industry.

"Most of the people who have known me and have worked with me are endorsing me," Brulte said. "Many of the people who have known and worked with Mark are also endorsing me."

Nymeyer said he is untroubled by the endorsements, including that of Bader, a former Pomona mayor, saying that such endorsements can scare away as many votes as they draw. However, he has complained about Bader's endorsement of Brulte.

"Chuck Bader has said numerous times that one of the biggest problems in Sacramento is that there are so many people up there who make decisions who have never served in local government," Nymeyer said. "And yet Chuck is supporting his man, who has never served in local government."

Brulte was 4 when his family moved from New York to California in 1960. He grew up in Ontario in a family that was interested in politics. At 10, Brulte said, he was "knocking on doors and handing out brochures" for Republican candidates.

He served as student president at Chaffey High School in Ontario, attended Azusa Pacific University, Chaffey College and Cal Poly Pomona, earning a bachelor's degree in political science from Cal Poly in 1980. He also served in the California Air National Guard and was national Airman of the Year in 1977.

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