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Decision '92 : VOTING IN THE VALLEY / AN ELECTION GUIDE : CONGRESS / 27th DISTRICT : Moorhead Is Taking Nothing for Granted

October 25, 1992|ALAN C. MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — On the surface, Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale) appears the epitome of a sure-fire reelection bet--even amid a national epidemic of anti-incumbent fervor.

Moorhead, who has been rated the most conservative lawmaker in the House, is a 20-year congressional veteran who has a $700,000 stockpile of campaign funds. His solidly Republican constituents have generally reelected him with a minimum of campaigning on his part.

Although the amiable Moorhead is hardly a legislative heavyweight--he was recently named dean of the "obscure caucus" by a Capitol Hill newspaper--he keeps in touch with voters by holding periodic town meetings, sending publicly financed mail and attending community events.

But this year's extreme electoral volatility has prompted Moorhead to dig more deeply than usual into his campaign coffers. He is seeking to fend off a challenge by Democrat Doug Kahn, a little-known party activist who owns a small Altadena typesetting company.

"I don't take things for granted," said Moorhead, who plans to spend $300,000 on mailings and cable television ads touting his staunchly pro-business record. "I'm going to do whatever I think is helpful to my campaign and not worry about his."

In 1990, Moorhead was shaken when his 1988 vote tally dropped from 70% to 59%. He suffered another blow when the Republican registration in his newly drawn 27th District--built around Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena--dipped from 55% to 46% in the 1992 reapportionment. Democratic registration is the new district is 42%.

Moorhead lost heavily Republican areas in the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys from his old 22nd District and picked up more Democratic sections of Pasadena, Burbank and Altadena. The new district is also more minority: 21% Hispanic, 8% black and 10% Asian. But it retains a conservative base of Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta and San Marino.

Polls indicate that Moorhead is out of step with a majority of district voters on one key issue: He opposes abortion except in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother and voted for the "gag rule" to restrict abortion counseling at federally funded clinics. In contrast, Kahn is highlighting his support for abortion rights.

Moorhead, 70, stresses his support for policies to create "a friendly business climate." He's also telling voters that he had no check overdrafts at the scandal-plagued House bank.

Moorhead is the ranking Republican on the energy and power subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the intellectual property and judicial administration subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. He is next in line to become the ranking minority member of the full Energy and Commerce panel--a potentially influential post.

Already far better known, Moorhead will outspend Kahn. The Democratic underdog says he hopes to take in $250,000.

Kahn, 40, maintains that Moorhead has been an ineffective lawmaker who goes to bat for corporate interests that pay for his campaign and his junkets to exotic locales.

"You have to search high and low to find his accomplishments in Congress," Kahn said. "He hasn't got the foggiest idea of what's wrong with the economy or how to fix it. He's not really been a representative. He's basically a lobbyist for the special interests."

Moorhead responds that he is active on a variety of energy, intellectual property, telecommunications and California issues. He said he has opposed groups that have funded his campaign and trips, such as television broadcasters and the cable television industry.

Both cite the cable television bill that Congress recently passed to make their point. Moorhead initially voted for the measure to reimpose federal controls on rates charged for basic television service. The industry strongly opposed the bill.

He subsequently switched to vote against the measure after it was amended to allow broadcasters to charge cable companies for the rights to carry local and network programming.

Movie studios--including Disney and Warner Brothers in Moorhead's district--opposed this provision because it would mean that broadcasters would get new revenue for programs without any new payments going to the movie studios and other firms producing the shows.

Kahn asserted that Moorhead has backed cable deregulation and only voted for the initial cable bill "when it was perfectly obvious it was going to pass." He said Moorhead flip-flopped to placate Disney and other studio campaign contributors.

Moorhead said he supported the deregulation bill because "I didn't like cable being able to jack up their prices without reason when they've got a monopoly." He said he opposed the broadcast provision because it would cost jobs in entertainment studios in his district.

Also running in the 27th District are Libertarian candidate Dennis Decherd, a Pasadena computer system analyst; Peace and Freedom candidate Margaret L. Edwards, an Altadena legal secretary, and Green Party candidate Jesse A. Moorman, a Pasadena civil rights attorney.

27th DISTRICT

Where: The district includes all of Altadena, Burbank, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Pasadena, San Marino, South Pasadena, Sunland and Tujunga, and portions of Lake View Terrace, Sun Valley, Sylmar and Northeast Los Angeles. To find out if you live in the district, call the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office at (213) 721-1100.

Candidates:

Doug Kahn, Democrat, small-business owner

Margaret L. Edwards, Peace and Freedom, activist

Carlos J. Moorhead, Republican, congressman

Dennis Decherd, Libertarian, computer system analyst

Jesse A. Moorman, Green, attorney

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