Times have so changed in Long Beach and the cities surrounding it that the question is no longer whether more people will be laid off, but how many.
Finding a way to ease the economic burden in the cities of the 38th Congressional District would be tough even for someone as experienced and powerful as incumbent Rep. Glenn Anderson, who after 24 years on the job has decided to retire.
Enter Democrat Evan Anderson Braude and Republican Steve Horn. Polls by both campaigns show voters are closely split between the two, with each candidate claiming he has the economic answers.
Braude has an edge in this district, which sweeps along the coast from Rancho Palos Verdes into Long Beach and north into the mostly white middle-class suburbs of Lakewood, Bellflower, Paramount and Downey.
The 45-year-old attorney and Long Beach City councilman is a Democrat in a district where there are 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. He is Rep. Anderson's stepson, a relationship that gives him not only a higher profile than his opponent but access to thousands of dollars in contributions he likely would have had a difficult time raising on his own. And finally, as a councilman, his even temper and sense of humor have earned him the reputation as accessible and approachable.
Braude has also become known as the most liberal of the nine-member City Council. In his six years, he has successfully championed laws that make job discrimination against gays and AIDS patients illegal. He has also fought for affordable housing and established a fund to build a center where the city's sizable homeless population can shower, wash clothes and get a hot meal.
But Braude faces a formidable foe in Horn. The 61-year-old professor with a no-nonsense manner has often been praised by supporters "as the best president Cal State Long Beach ever had." Brilliant and demanding, Horn presided over the university for 17 years before being forced to resign after an unexpected budget crisis flared into an all-out battle with some longtime faculty members who thought he was arrogant.
Horn is using all his skills to woo the district's Democrats, many of whom voted for Ronald Reagan and George Bush and who may find Horn's credentials and particular blend of Republicanism to be appealing. His campaign literature is crammed with information, and he recently mailed 49,000 15-minute videotapes to Republicans, Democrats and independents describing his platform in his characteristic no-frills manner.
While fiscally conservative, Horn supports abortion rights, public education and gay rights.
A scholar with a library of 7,000 books on Congress--including two he wrote and a third he co-wrote--Horn has served on numerous high-profile government boards. He served as vice chairman on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for 11 years, and was a founding member of the National Institute of Corrections board. In his youth, he served as a legislative aide to Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel, then the deputy Republican leader of the U.S. Senate.
Though much of the campaign has focused on issues, Horn has jabbed Braude for his constant references to "my stepfather, Congressman Anderson" and labels Braude a "career politician." And as often as possible, Braude characterizes Horn as the stereotypical "ivory tower" professor who knows much about theory and little about reality.
But this week, the Braude campaign began playing hardball. A flyer designed to resemble a manila folder stamped "Top Secret" and labeled "Steve Horn's budget mess" was sent to district voters and rehashes Horn's controversial dismissal from Cal State Long Beach. It describes him as a "university professor and consultant in a wealthy Arab nation" and accuses him of wasting education money on lavish dinners and mismanaging taxpayers' money. It ends with a warning: "Steve Horn wants to be your congressman so that he can get his hands on the federal budget."
Braude defended his decision to resort to an attack on Horn's record, saying that voters needed to know that Horn has "significant problems."
"He makes it seem like he's the greatest thing that ever lived at the university," Braude said. "We need to correct that impression."
Horn has made no apologies for what happened at Cal State Long Beach and has characterized himself as a reformer who took on the Old Guard and paid for it. He said he is one of numerous American and European consultants working to upgrade the United Arab Emirates University, where a former Cal State Long Beach business school dean is president.
As for the lavish dinners? "Evan Braude would starve to death on our lavish dinners," Horn said.