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Wilson Fills Senate Seat : Anaheim's Seymour to Washington

January 02, 1991|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Gov.-elect Pete Wilson today named state Sen. John Seymour of Anaheim to succeed him in the U.S. Senate.

The appointment ends two months of speculation about Wilson's successor and sets the stage for a potentially bruising political battle in 1992, when Wilson's nominee must run for election to the final two years of Wilson's term.

That race will be on the same ballot with the contest to succeed Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, who has announced he is retiring, and will mark the first time that both of California's Senate seats will be on the same ballot.

Seymour, 53, was not even on most published lists of rumored candidates for the appointment. A former mayor of Anaheim who negotiated the move of the Los Angeles Rams football team to Anaheim, Seymour was first elected to the state Senate in a 1982 special election and reelected in 1984 and 1988. He ran for lieutenant governor last year, but lost the Republican primary by more than 200,000 votes to fellow Orange County Sen. Marian Bergeson.

Wilson introduced Seymour at a Capitol news conference as "philosophically compatible" and an able vote-getter.

"I've known John Seymour for a long time, since we were mayors together," he said. "I saw him bring to the administration of the city of Anaheim the same kind of intelligence, the same energy, the same toughness of mind that made him a millionaire before he was 30 years old."

A successful Orange County realtor, Seymour established a very conservative voting record in his early years in the state Senate, voting against most expansions of state regulations and against many state spending programs. He also supported the pro-life position on abortion.

But in recent years, Seymour has shifted to moderate positions more in line with Wilson, a friend since they were fellow mayors, and has become a force for negotiation and compromise with the Democratic majority in the Legislature.

Seymour's most dramatic shift was on abortion, when he adopted a pro-choice stance in 1989. That was one of the major issues in his unsuccessful race for lieutenant governor last year.

Wilson had indicated that electability was a prime concern in his choice, interpreted to refer to the ability to raise large amounts of campaign funds, perhaps as much as $20 million for a 1992 campaign and another $20 million for 1994.

Wilson must resign his Senate seat before taking the oath of office as governor next Monday, and then he can immediately appoint his successor.

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