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ELECTIONS : Latinos, Democrats Are Expected to Be Big Winners in Central L.A.

October 18, 1992|JAMES RAINEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Unprecedented progress for Latinos and the continuing dominance of Democrats promise to be the hallmarks of this fall's election in Central Los Angeles.

Redistricting has made Latinos the odds-on favorites in six Assembly districts countywide--double the number Latinos previously represented. And in Congress, Latinos stand to pick up one additional representative in the general election.

Even with demographics virtually assuring their own election, Democrats say they will push voters to turn out Nov. 3 to help influence the outcome of statewide and national races.

"We will talk a lot about the importance of voting for (U.S. Senate candidates) Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and for Bill Clinton," said Assemblywoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who is favored to win election to the House in the 33rd District southeast of Downtown.

Republican strategists have all but conceded Central Los Angeles to their opponents. The head of the committee charged with winning legislative seats for the GOP said that he did not even have biographical information on the candidates from the area.

And Phil Perry, a spokesman for Assembly Minority Leader Bill Jones (R-Fresno), added: "There's not a snowball's chance for any of our candidates. It's into the valley of death, as it were."

But leaders in the Democratic Party and the Latino community said they hope the expected victories in the fall are only the beginning of a greater consolidation of power. About 900,000 mostly Latino amnesty participants will become eligible for citizenship and voter registration in 1993, presenting a remarkable opportunity for Latino gains at the ballot box.

"I believe you are going to see a substantial surge in the 1990s in voter registration and voter participation," said Antonia Hernandez, president of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "People who qualified for legalization are just becoming eligible (for citizenship)."

The California Supreme Court recognized the burgeoning Latino population in January when it approved new political boundaries.

The court created three new Latino Assembly seats in suburban Los Angeles County--one in the East San Gabriel Valley, one in the southeast part of the county and a third east of Downtown in the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood and South Gate.

The latter is the 50th District, the most heavily Latino district in the state with 88% of the population and 55% of the registered voters from that ethnic group. The court also created a new Latino state Senate district, to be decided in 1994, near Downtown.

This year's remapping left the black districts in Central Los Angeles largely intact. African-American voters retain electoral dominance in three Assembly districts, a state Senate district and two congressional districts in the region that will be on the ballot Nov. 3.

A summary of the region's races:

Assembly

* District 45: Richard Polanco is seeking his fourth term in a redrawn district that now stretches from Hollywood west through Downtown and north to Eagle Rock. He handily dispatched his lone Democratic challenger in the June primary and with Democrats dominating registration by more than 2-to-1 he is expected to breeze past Republican Kitty Hedrick in November.

* District 46: The real fight for this seat--vacated by Roybal-Allard's expected move to Congress--came in the June primary when Louis Caldera, a deputy county counsel, defeated Roybal-Allard's top aide, Berta Saavedra. The West Point- and Harvard Law-educated Caldera benefits from a district, stretching from East Los Angeles to Pico-Union, that is 70% Latino and 64% Democratic in his runoff with Republican David M. Osborne.

* District 47: Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 5-to-1 in this district that stretches from Culver City and the Crenshaw District into South Los Angeles. Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles) is pushing job creation and proposing construction of an electric car factory as she seeks a seventh term. Republican and graphic artist Jonathan Leonard III is her opponent.

* District 48: Incumbent Marguerite Archie-Hudson holds the state's most Democratic Assembly district, an 88% Democratic ward that runs from downtown to Watts. Archie-Hudson ran away with the June primary and since gained attention with a proposal to make it more difficult to license new liquor stores in communities where there is an overabundance of those businesses. Republican opponent Jonathan Leonard II, father of the 47th District candidate, concedes that GOP members campaigning in his district are likely to get "tossed out the door" by voters.

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