Six-term South Bay Assemblyman Gerald Felando says his run for reelection this year may be his last.
In an interview, Felando said that although he has not yet made a final decision, he is thinking about serving just one more two-year term--assuming he wins reelection on Nov. 6.
"With another two years, that gives me 14 years in the Assembly," the 55-year-old San Pedro Republican said. "I think it might be time to step aside and let someone new with fire in their guts take a stab."
In an era in which state legislators have proven virtually invulnerable to electoral challenge, Felando's comments raise an unusual prospect--wide-open competition for a local Assembly seat.
"An open seat would bring candidates out of the woodwork," said Manhattan Beach City Councilman Bob Holmes, who is weighing a run for the Assembly in 1992.
Felando said his consideration of a 1992 departure is not prompted by his recent bout with a rare form of cancer or by the possibility that voters this fall might approve ballot proposals limiting the number of terms lawmakers can serve.
The cancer, a form of lymphoma called mycosis fungoides, has been in remission for over a year, Felando said. And since the two ballot questions that would affect legislative terms are not retroactive, neither would prevent him from seeking an eighth term.
Felando said his only reason for considering a change of course is that he believes by 1992 it may be time for new leadership in his 51st Assembly District.
He said he will not make a final decision until after the fall election, however: "I have to sit down and think about it."
Two challengers are scheduled to face Felando on Nov. 6--Democrat Marilyn Landau and Libertarian William Gaillard. Landau said she doubts Felando's comments about bowing out of the Assembly will affect the race.
The remarks, however, are likely to stir interest among South Bay politicos eager to run for an open Assembly seat.
At least two South Bay Republicans are hoping to compete for Felando's political turf, a largely Republican area that includes Torrance and coastal areas from Manhattan Beach to San Pedro.
Banking on the possibility that Felando will forgo an eighth term, Holmes, a Republican, has already begun notifying supporters that he is considering a run for the Assembly in 1992.
Torrance City Councilman Dan Walker, another Republican, also expresses interest in running for the Assembly, although he says he will make no move to run until Felando decides to leave office.
"I have made absolutely no secret of my enjoyment of public office," Walker said. "If the people were to support me for higher office, I would enjoy that equally well."
Walker was preparing to run in the 51st District in 1988, when Felando was a candidate for the 42nd Congressional District seat. He abandoned the effort after Felando dropped out of the congressional race and opened another bid for reelection to the Assembly.
Even if Felando were to announce today that he is leaving the Assembly in 1992, the shape of that race would be clouded by a major question: how the district's lines will be redrawn next year to account for population shifts reflected in the 1990 census.
Holmes, for instance, could find himself in the heavily Democratic 50th Assembly District if that district, now represented by Curtis Tucker Jr., is pushed south from El Segundo to include Manhattan Beach.
The more immediate question for would-be candidates, however, is whether Felando will run in '92. Said Holmes: "Clearly, one would have to have a death wish to run against a Republican incumbent in a Republican district."