Flores--who by Oct. 14 had collected slightly more than the $300,000 she said she needed for the general election--has financed her campaign largely through contributions from developers and businesses scattered throughout Los Angeles and from some of City Hall's most powerful lobbyists.
Her abundant harbor area contributors include two controversial scrap yards--Hugo Neu-Proler and Hiuka America Corp. She also lists donations from groups opposed to abortion rights.
Counting her fund raising before the bruising 11-candidate Republican primary in June, Flores has so far raised more than $600,000 for her campaign.
In her primary-campaign literature, she proudly described herself as "The Conservative Republican," a label she now tries to sidestep as she woos moderate voters. In the past, she has said she favors banning abortion except in cases of rape, incest or health risk to the mother. Now, she says she would oppose a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion.
She says she "probably would not" propose curbs on the procedure but would support such restrictions as a 24-hour waiting period, parental consent for minors and a ban on all abortions after the first trimester.
"I would certainly like to work with people who are pro-choice to find ways where we could reach some kind of a coming together of the views," Flores said.
On most issues, Flores has shown herself to be a cautious politician, hesitant to take an outspoken stand on anything until she has heard what all sides have to say. Over the years, she has formed dozens of community advisory councils to guide her on matters of concern in her council district.
"It allows for citizen government, . . . and she doesn't get blindsided on issues that way," said Jerry Gaines, president of the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition and a frequent participant in Flores' councils. "She doesn't come in with a top-down attitude, but rather from the bottom up."
Not everyone in her current council district, which makes up roughly 12% of the new congressional district, believes her approach has been successful.
"We always have task forces, but they never accomplish anything," said Bill Schwab, a Wilmington community activist. "These task forces are just an easy way to get away from everything. . . . We haven't seen her in our community in such a long time."
Flores' concern with consensus has made \o7 compromise \f7 a dirty word in Wilmington, Wysocki said.
"She's always willing to work a compromise, and that compromise always leaves this community with a negative," Wysocki said. "She says she was running Gibson's office in the waning days of his term. . . . Well, that's fine, but you can't accept the credit unless you're willing to accept the blame. In all these years, what has been accomplished in Wilmington that we haven't had to do all by ourselves?"
Wilmington has long been a political thorn for Flores, but she asserts that she has tried hard to clean up the community, closing landfills, removing old coke piles and starting a slow phaseout of junkyards.
Through it all, she said, she has forged compromises and heeded the advice of her advisory councils.
"We've expended a lot of effort in Wilmington . . . with a regular office and a permanent employee who lives there and by my keeping regular office hours there," she said. "I believe that I have been responsive."
Flores said she wants to use that street-level experience to go to Congress to help turn back what she describes as a tide of Washington regulations and mandates choking the nation's communities.
"I believe that control of many of the matters decided in Washington now should be returned to the local level," she said. "Perhaps I can work at that level to make sure that happens."
36th Congressional District FactsWhere: Marina del Rey, Westchester and south along the coast to San Pedro.
Registration: 42.4% Democratic; 42.7% Republican.
Major-Party Candidates: Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, Republican; Jane Harman, Democrat.