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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS: CONGRESS : Democratic Incumbents Appear Headed for Easy Victories Nov. 6

October 14, 1990|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Democratic candidates in four Southeast area congressional districts seem to be moving toward easy victories on Nov. 6. While an anti-incumbent mood has been reported in congressional districts elsewhere, that sentiment does not appear to prevail here.

Three Democratic incumbents--Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park), Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton) and Glenn M. Anderson (D-San Pedro)--face relatively weak challenges and are heavily favored to win.

And in the only race with no incumbent, Democrat Maxine Waters is already acting like a winner, while her Republican opponent, Bill DeWitt, is waging what can only be described as a polite campaign. "I don't have any rocks to throw at her," said DeWitt, 48, a former South Gate city councilman who is opposing Waters in the 29th District.

In fact, DeWitt conceded to The Times earlier this month, "the Republican Party has kind of given up on this district," making beating Waters a "herculean task."

Covering South-Central Los Angeles, South Gate, Huntington Park and part of Downey, the district is Democratic by a 7-1 margin. The district's House seat is being vacated by the retirement of Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Los Angeles), 83, who has occupied it since 1962.

Long considered the heir apparent to Hawkins, Waters, 52, is expected to be helped by her 14 years of representing much the same area in the Assembly. In the Assembly, she served as a top lieutenant of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and gained a reputation as a champion of the poor and disadvantaged.

In recent weeks, Waters, in addition to maintaining a regular schedule of appearances in the district--especially at churches--has spent time in Washington hobnobbing with House Democratic leaders and discussing possible committee assignments.

DeWitt, who owns a woodworking business, is conducting a low-key campaign and spending little money. Among other things, he said, he is concerned about stringent air-quality regulations that are "in the process of driving business out of state."

A third candidate, Libertarian Waheed R. Boctor, did not return Times telephone calls.

District 30: Martinez Has It Easier This Time

In the 30th District, Martinez, 61, is campaigning quietly for reelection after triumphing in 1988 over a Democratic primary challenger who questioned his ethics and a Republican candidate who was well-financed.

Two years ago, former Monterey Park Mayor Lily Chen leveled strong personal attacks against Martinez in the Democratic primary, accusing him of misusing office funds, taking junkets at taxpayers' expense with his administrative assistant, abusing his staff and other misdeeds. Martinez denied the allegations and breezed to victory over Chen by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.

In the 1988 general election, Republicans made Martinez one of their national targets and spent nearly $400,000 trying to oust him. But the GOP candidate, Ralph R. Ramirez, received just 36% of the vote, while Martinez garnered 60%.

Discouraged by those results, Republicans seem to be leaving Martinez alone this time.

The party's candidate, Reuben D. Franco, 30, said he has been going door to door soliciting votes since April and is getting strong help from local volunteers, but his campaign is not well-financed. His goal is to raise $150,000.

Describing himself as a "Jack Kemp Republican" who understands the problems of blue-collar neighborhoods and the poor, Franco, a businessman and entrepreneur whose financial interests range from trading commodities to an investment in a tool-import company, says he is eager to promote various incentives to help the disadvantaged.

"Mr. Martinez has not been effective," said Franco, who accused the incumbent of having little to show for eight years in the Congress. "The people deserve better."

Two years ago Franco ran against Hawkins in the 29th District but lost by a large margin.

A third candidate, Libertarian G. Curtis Feger, said he believes that government is "too intrusive" and that both Republican and Democratic officeholders are to blame. He said he would cut back the role of government and also reduce U.S. involvement abroad.

The district includes Alhambra, Azusa, Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, El Monte, Irwindale, Maywood, Monterey Park, Montebello, Rosemead, San Gabriel, Vernon and parts of East Los Angeles.

District 31: Dymally Goes for a Sixth Term

In the 31st District, Dymally is expected to win a sixth term easily. The congressman, 64, is opposed by Republican Eunice N. Sato, 69, a Long Beach city councilwoman from 1975 to 1986 who served a term as the city's mayor.

One of the most liberal members of Congress, Dymally came under fire from his opponent in the Democratic primary this spring for his efforts to promote U.S. black business interests in various African nations and for his close ties to Mobutu Sese Seko, ruler of Zaire.

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