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Decision '92 : VOTING IN THE VALLEY / AN ELECTION GUIDE : ASSEMBLY / 44th DISTRICT : Fuhrman Seeks Fast Finish to Upset Hoge

October 25, 1992|JAMES QUINN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Democrats in the new 44th Assembly District are hoping for a major miracle Nov. 3--a minor miracle probably won't do.

Court-ordered reapportionment has created a Pasadena-based district that leaders of both political parties in Sacramento consider safe for Republicans.

The odd-shaped district stretches from the eastern San Gabriel Valley around the north side of the Verdugo Hills to include Sunland, Tujunga, Lake View Terrace and parts of Sun Valley and Sylmar.

Voter registration suggests that the GOP candidate, Pasadena insurance broker Bill Hoge, starts with a significant edge.

Further, fund-raising efforts by the Democratic nominee, Pasadena food company executive Jonathan S. Fuhrman, have yielded only a few thousand dollars while Hoge has raised more than $300,000 this year.

Nonetheless, Fuhrman professes to see that miracle finish in the offing.

"There's a bandwagon effect" filtering down from the campaign of Gov. Bill Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, who is leading most polls, he said.

"People sense an upset and volunteers are turning out in droves."

Fuhrman notes that a 46% to 43% edge in voter registration that the GOP enjoyed in the June primary has evaporated.

The two parties were about even in registration by September, and Fuhrman predicts that last-minute sign-up drives will give a slight lead to Democrats.

Since Republicans traditionally turn out in higher numbers and seldom cross over to vote for a Democrat, most political analysts feel that a Democratic candidate has to start with a healthy registration bulge to have a chance.

But Fuhrman, 42, contends that the bloodying Hoge took in the hotly contested 10-candidate GOP primary upsets that political calculus.

Hoge, 46, who has not run for office before, is a self-described hard-core conservative who has made tax reduction and opposition to government regulation the cornerstones of his campaign.

Gov. Pete Wilson, who leads the GOP moderate wing in California, strongly backed former La Canada Flintridge Mayor Barbara Pieper, who finished second.

Fuhrman's strategy is to depict Hoge as an extremist and to reach out to moderate Republicans.

"Many Republicans have told me they are very uncomfortable with his extremist view that we should cut taxes, damn the torpedoes and to hell with the consequences," Fuhrman said. "I think that discomfort will show up on election day."

To position himself in the ideological middle, the Democratic nominee stresses his business background and bills himself as a moderate on economic issues, calling for cutting government waste and creating jobs through improving the business climate.

Fuhrman also has criticized Sacramento Democrats for failing to cut waste and fraud in the state's workers' compensation system.

Hoge, who bills himself in campaign literature as Bill (Tax Reduction) Hoge, shows no sign of backing away from the views he says he has held since childhood, when he walked precincts on behalf of former Republican Rep. John Rousselot, a member of the right-wing John Birch Society.

The candidate said he believes that "the less government meddling in our lives, the better."

He was Southern California leader of the successful drive to impose term limits on state legislators and, if elected, pledges to work to make the Legislature a part-time operation.

The less time that legislators have to pass laws, the better off the state will be because "the last thing we need is more laws."

He has sharply criticized Wilson for signing tax-increase legislation in 1991, suggesting that higher taxes were at least partly responsible for the current recession.

The state's economic health will be restored, Hoge said, when taxes are slashed and government regulation reduced.

Fuhrman and Hoge also differ sharply on two highly charged issues.

The Democratic nominee supports abortion rights and restrictions on gun ownership.

Hoge wants to ban abortion and remove restrictions on gun ownership.

The third candidate on the ballot is Libertarian nominee Ken Saurenman, 54, a Pasadena contractor.

44th DISTRICT

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

Candidates:

Jonathan S. Fuhrman, Democrat, manager, county commissioner

Bill Hoge, Republican, small business owner

Ken Saurenman, Libertarian, contractor

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