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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS '92 : CONGRESS / VENTURA, ORANGE and SAN DIEGO : No Party Favors : Primary: GOP members engage in bruising battles as incumbents face tough challenges.

May 25, 1992|PATT MORRISON | This article was reported by Times staff writers Eric Bailey, Tina Daunt, Barry Horstman, Dave Lesher and Ron Soble. It was written by Patt Morrison

Dornan wrote one disputed check on the House bank, for stones for a back-yard grotto he says he was building to the Virgin Mary. He also insists it was the bank's accounting mistake that caused the problem.

49th District: San Diego, La Jolla, Imperial Beach, Coronado / 45% Republican, 39% Democrat

Five Democrats and 10 Republicans are vying for this open seat. "At candidate forums, they start at one end of the table and by the time they reach the other end, it's the next morning," jokes GOP contender John C. Weil.

Two onetime aides to former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown--lawyers Byron Georgiou and Lynn Schenk--are prime contenders in the Democratic primary. Also in the race are Troy X. Kelley, Carol Lucke, and Bill Winston.

The GOP candidates have labored to pull themselves above the pack. Former San Diego City Councilman Bill Mitchell stresses that he is the only contender with experience in elected office. Nurse Judy Jarvis hopes that being the only woman will boost her chances. Businessmen Ray Saatjian and Alan Uke and financial planner Skip Cox say their experience could help them with economic problems. Oral surgeon Ron Hecker says he has special insights into the nation's pressing health care needs. Real estate agent Dave Pierce, the lone abortion opponent in the GOP field, hopes that the issue will give him the conservative vote.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 28, 1992 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
House bank--A story in Monday's Times erroneously reported that Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) was responsible for a disputed check written on the House bank. Dornan originally told reporters he wrote one check that exceeded his account balance, but a subsequent House audit of congressional bank accounts did not find any overdrafts on his record.

Rounding out the field are Weil, Roy Moeller and Bob Tatum.

Anti-Washington themes have dominated much of the campaign dialogue. Capturing that mood, Libertarian candidate John Wallner told a debate audience: "Politicians are like diapers. They both should be changed often--and for the same reason."

50th District: San Diego, La Mesa, Chula Vista, National City / 51% Democrat, 36% Republican

Reapportionment left this district without an incumbent and made it the only solid Democratic congressional seat in San Diego. The party's primary has attracted six candidates, including three with 50 years in public office among them. Two also carry considerable negative baggage.

Former Rep. Jim Bates' rebuke by the House in 1989 on sexual harassment charges led to his loss to a Republican in 1990. His hopes of rebounding this year were hurt when it was revealed that while in the House, he wrote 89 overdraft checks for more than $170,000.

State Sen. Wadie P. Deddeh is on CARAL's "enemies of choice" list. He also has been attacked for accepting more than $800,000 in special-interest campaign contributions during the past seven years, being delinquent in property taxes on land development companies he invested in and accepting more than $50,000 in free trips and gifts from large companies, foreign governments and interest groups.

The third high-profile candidate is San Diego City Councilman Bob Filner, a 1960s civil rights Freedom Rider. The harshest criticism being directed his way is for seeking higher office six months into his second term.

Although the three have daunting name recognition and fund-raising advantages, the challengers in this acrimonious race--Greg Akill, Lincoln Pickard and Juan Carlos Vargas--hope voters will look to one of them as alternatives to politics as usual.

"These guys may carve each other up so much that . . . it's just going to reinforce people's dissatisfaction with professional politicians," Vargas said.

The three Republican candidates are Luis Acle, Lou A. Monge and Tony Valencia.

52nd District: Imperial County, El Cajon, Santee / 48% Republican, 38% Democrat

One of the purest measures of the depth of public anger over the House check-writing scandal could emerge here, where a six-term Republican incumbent hip-deep in the controversy faces two relative unknowns.

Over 39 months, Rep. Duncan Hunter wrote 407 overdrafts totaling $129,225 at the House bank. Hunter believes voters will accept his explanation that he did nothing wrong but simply availed himself of the overdraft protection--at no cost to taxpayers. And his two challengers, lawyer Robert Krysak and construction contractor Eric Epifano, have made only passing reference to the flap.

Within political circles, however, the race is viewed as a "Rubbergate" referendum.

Democrat Janet M. Gastil is unopposed.

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