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GOP Pair May Challenge Beilenson : Elections: The Thousand Oaks residents predict the Democrat, who plans to seek a 10th term, will be vulnerable in the fall.


Sensing new-found vulnerability among Democratic incumbents, two Thousand Oaks Republicans are thinking about challenging Democratic Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson next year in a congressional district that includes conservative Thousand Oaks.

Beilenson, who won a surprisingly decisive victory last November in a newly drawn district, said this week that he intends to seek a 10th term next year.

Often underestimated in the past, Beilenson has moved quickly to cement his ties with his GOP-leaning 24th Congressional District that extends from the San Fernando Valley to Malibu and Thousand Oaks.

Nevertheless, Bill Spillane, a former fighter pilot from Thousand Oaks, and Robert K. Hammer, an investment banker from Newbury Park, both say they are considering bids for their party's nomination.

Both predicted that Beilenson would be far more vulnerable next year because Democrat Bill Clinton gave him a boost last year but is likely to pull him down next year. Beilenson has supported President Clinton's economic plan--which the Republicans say is widely unpopular in the district--and the President's party traditionally loses ground in mid-term elections.

"Congress people get swept along with tides and Beilenson enjoyed a high tide last November and he can expect a low tide next November," Spillane said. "He's subject to the vagaries of fate."

In 1992, Spillane invested more than $200,000 of his own money to compete in the Republican primary, finishing third behind then-Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) and Calabasas businessman Sang Korman. Beilenson handily defeated McClintock in the general election.

But now Spillane suggests he is ready for another campaign. "There's every likelihood that I'm running," he said. "Any Republican who's not a career legislator and wins the primary will beat him."

Hammer, a GOP activist and Vietnam veteran who has never run for public office, was more circumspect about his prospective candidacy: "It's something that's being considered."

Hammer is an alternate member of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee and a member of the county's Republican Lincoln Club.

Beilenson said that he saw no reason to respond to his would-be adversaries at this early date.

"When the time comes, of course, I'll be happy to talk issues or personality or anything anyone wants," the Woodland Hills Democrat said. "Obviously, it's a difficult district and I'm sure a number of Republicans will be looking to run. They have to prove themselves in their own primary first."

At that point, he said, "I'll be available."

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