There will be one new face from the San Fernando Valley area appearing in Washington next year.
Former Santa Clarita Mayor Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, a conservative Republican who says he is not a politician, easily won election Tuesday in the new 25th Congressional District with more than 50% of the vote.
In other races, voters returned local incumbents to office in both Washington and Sacramento although by smaller margins in some districts because of Democratic gains in registration and redistricting.
McKeon, who with his brothers owns a chain of Western clothing stores, defeated Democrat James R. Gilmartin, independent Rick Pamplin and three minor-party candidates. He will be the first congressman to represent both the fast-growing Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, which formerly were divided among four districts. The new district also covers the northwestern San Fernando Valley.
"I'm really looking forward to representing the whole area," McKeon said. "I love the idea of having a solid district."
McKeon, who spent about $500,000 on his campaign, said the hardest battle for him was in the primary when he faced several prominent Republican politicians, including Assemblyman Philip Wyman, ex-Congressman John Rousselot and John Lynch, former Los Angeles County tax assessor.
Pamplin, an early supporter of Ross Perot, waged a spirited campaign until the last minute, buying time on four cable television systems Monday night and crisscrossing the district in a recreational vehicle. But he ended up with only 6.5% of the vote and blamed Perot for his overwhelming defeat.
"It was political suicide to run on Ross Perot's platform," he said. "There was no such thing as coattails for Perot. . . . The bottom line is you've got to be part of the two-party system to win."
Had Perot not dropped out of the presidential race July 16, Pamplin said, "I think he could have won and I think you'd be talking to the new congressman for this district."
But Pamplin said that Perot "never recovered from breaking faith with the American people."
The closest congressional race was in the 27th District, where rising Democratic registration held 70-year-old Republican Carlos Moorhead of Glendale, a veteran of 20 years in Congress, to less than 49% of the vote. Democrat Doug Kahn, an Altadena businessman who ran a high-profile campaign, got 40%.
Kahn vowed to run again in two years. "I'll be back," he said. "I'm running right now."
Kahn said he spent more than $100,000, but Moorhead doled out more than $400,000 on expensive mailings and radio and television commercials. The congressman said he had to run well ahead of President Bush in his district to win reelection.
"We were swimming against the trend," he said.
In other congressional races, Democrat Howard L. Berman, a five-term lawmaker, easily defeated Republican businessman Gary Forsch and two minor-party candidates in the heavily Democratic 26th District. The district covers the eastern and central San Fernando Valley.
In the 29th District, which covers Sherman Oaks and Studio City as well as Hollywood, Los Feliz and the Westside, Democratic incumbent Henry A. Waxman did not suffer from racking up 434 overdrafts at the House bank.
Widely regarded at one of the most influential members of the House, Waxman won by more than 35% over his closest challenger, attorney Mark A. Robbins.
In the state Senate, the region's closest race was in the 21st District between Republican Newton R. Russell, another veteran lawmaker, and political newcomer Rachel Dewey, a rocket scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Russell blamed Bush's weakness in California as an obstacle he had to overcome to score a comparatively narrow victory over his Democratic challenger. He received more than 49% of the vote, compared to 44.4% for Dewey.
"It was the year of the woman, the year of anti-incumbents and the new district has more Democrats," Russell said. "This is the toughest challenge I've faced and I'm glad she didn't raise money for a stronger campaign."
Dewey said she plans to run for the Senate seat again in four years.
"I definitely expect to run again," she said. "I think the state party should be targeting this area. We've been conceding it to Republicans for the past 30 years."
Dewey said she received the vote she expected, given that she had only about $12,000 to spend on the campaign. The district covers the eastern San Gabriel Valley as well as Glendale, Burbank, Sunland and Tujunga.
In the 17th District, which includes the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, Republican Don Rogers easily defeated Democrat William M. Olenick, a deputy probation officer.
The result mirrors registration in the district, in which voter registration is 52% Republican and only 36% Democratic. Rogers was elected to a four-year term in the 16th Senate District from Bakersfield two years ago but lost much of his old district after reapportionment. He moved from Bakersfield to Tehachapi to run for the 17th District seat.