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Decision '92 : VOTING IN THE VALLEY / AN ELECTION GUIDE : ASSEMBLY / 43rd DISTRICT : Nolan Using Experience to His Advantage

October 25, 1992|MARK GLADSTONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — With his two underdog opponents conceding they face an uphill fight, veteran Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) has plenty of reason to feel confident about his reelection prospects.

But in the unsettled political climate of 1992, even a proven vote-getter like Nolan is not taking the outcome for granted, especially since the 43rd District has been redrawn to drop Pasadena and include all of Burbank, most of Glendale and parts of Los Angeles, including Los Feliz, Griffith Park and part of Hollywood.

Contributing to the uncertainty is that the district is no longer overwhelmingly Republican. Registered Republicans only narrowly outnumber Democrats, 44% to 42%, according to the secretary of state's office. In addition, voters elsewhere have registered a strong anti-incumbent sentiment.

"This is not a normal election year," maintains Nolan, 42, noting that in the once-a-decade reapportionment "this district has changed dramatically." Nolan says that in the redrawn district more than half the voters are new to him.

Stressing his deep roots in the community, Nolan is mailing literature with photos of his great-grandparents, plastering the district with campaign signs, holding coffees, recruiting Republican block captains and amassing a large war chest, having spent $357,000 so far this year.

Nolan is seeking to turn his experience into an advantage, painting himself in his campaign literature as a "voice for change" who is "fighting for reform" in Sacramento.

"My object is to be so strong in the district that the Democrats decide to pour their money elsewhere," Nolan says.

So far, Assembly Democrats have showed no signs of helping their own nominee, Elliott Graham, 55, of Glendale. Indeed, both Graham and Libertarian Anthony G. Bajada say they have little money to counter Nolan's campaign offensive.

Graham is a Democrat with a twist. In 1974, he ran for Congress as a Republican. In the June primary, he signed up as a delegate for Democratic presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, a political extremist who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for fraud and tax evasion.

Now, Graham describes his action as "probably the worst thing I did" and attempts to distance himself from LaRouche. He says he was drawn to LaRouche's anti-Establishment positions but later realized he disagreed with many of his views.

Graham says he also has solicited support for his race from backers of other dark horse presidential candidates, including James G. "Bo" Gritz, who led forays into Southeast Asia in search of prisoners of war; Howard Phillips of the American Independent Party; and Libertarian Andre Marrou. He even went to one rally for Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.

Graham describes the district as "probably the toughest area for a Democrat to win in" and acknowledges that raising funds for the campaign has been difficult.

With his base in Glendale, Nolan has been winning legislative races since 1978, when he was swept into office stressing support for Proposition 13, the property tax-cutting initiative.

Nolan is seeking a decisive victory this year to forestall Democrats from fielding a stronger candidate in two years and position himself to run for higher office, possibly state Senate or Congress.

Nolan's sights were once on even higher office, but in 1988--when he was Assembly Republican leader--his Capitol office was raided by FBI agents as part of an undercover sting operation. Nolan has never been charged with a crime and won reelection in 1988 and again in 1990.

Nolan remains an influential voice inside Republican circles.

In the recently ended legislative session, Nolan won enactment of a bill to allow public access to reports of crimes committed on college campuses. He also succeeded in pushing through the Legislature a measure to require the state to refer all prison inmates who are convicted of violent or drug felonies to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to determine if they are illegal immigrants and subject to deportation.

Along with frustration about public schools and other public services, Nolan considers illegal immigration a major issue.

"We are being invaded right now just as if there was an army pouring across the border," Nolan says. "Our institutions are being overwhelmed. I think it's reached a crisis."

To stem the tide of illegal immigrants, Nolan suggests mobilizing the National Guard if the federal government fails to seal off the border with Mexico.

43rd DISTRICT

Where: The district includes Burbank, Glendale and Los Feliz, and a portion of Northeast Los Angeles. To find out if you live in the ddistrict, call the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office at (213) 721-1100.

Candidates:

Elliott Graham, Democrat, producer, director, photographer

Pat Nolan, Republican, assemblyman

Anthony G. Bajada, Libertarian, university lecturer

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