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POLITICAL NOTES

ELECTION RETURNS : Brooks Carries Her Tune to the End With 'My Guy' Spoof of Harman

November 10, 1994|TED JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TIME TO CROON: At the last minute, Rancho Palos Verdes Councilwoman Susan Brooks tried to change the tune in her bitter race with incumbent Rep. Jane Harman but not the tone.

Addressing a packed hospitality suite on election night, Republican Brooks and daughter Meredith sang a song about Harman (D-Rolling Hills) and President Clinton to the strains of "My Guy." The tone, however, remained negative.

"Jane's stuck like glue to her guy, Clinton," the mother and daughter crooned, referring to Harman's votes in support of Clinton policies.

"Like birds of a feather, they vote together," was another memorable line.

After the mother-daughter duet, the roomful of Brooks supporters chimed in with the chorus yelling, "Clinton."

The song fit in with the festive mood in Brooks' suite. But one supporter, Palos Verdes Peninsula resident and developer Ken Zuckerman, said, "Hopefully, she makes a better congresswoman than a singer. . . . She's always had a lot of sport, and I enjoy her enthusiasm."

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BALLOT BUZZ: If Harman (D-Rolling Hills) wins by one vote, she can thank her daughter, son and Continental Airlines.

Daughter Hilary, a sophomore at Princeton University in New Jersey, was hoping to vote in her first election this year. But she applied late for an absentee ballot, and it arrived on Election Day.

"This was going to be a major disaster, as far as her mother was concerned," Harman told supporters at her campaign party.

Undaunted, Hilary voted the ballot and had it shipped to Los Angeles on a cross-country flight. Harman's son Brian picked up the ballot at LAX and, in accordance with election rules, dropped it off at a polling place at 7:47 p.m., 13 minutes before the polls closed.

Did Harman ask Hilary how she voted?

"I didn't have to ask," she said.

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THE CHICKEN UNCOVERED: Harman never talked to the chicken. And seldom acknowledged it in speeches. But she wondered who it was.

Several times, Brooks' campaign dispatched someone in a chicken suit to goad Harman into a one-on-one debate. It was a strategy that Clinton used against George Bush in 1992.

On Tuesday afternoon, Brooks campaign manager John Perkins was ready to reveal the chicken's identity. Mike Espy? Joan Milke Flores?

Nope. It was David Bohline, who worked on the Brooks campaign and made an unsuccessful bid in the 53rd Assembly District primary against Julian Sirull. Sirull was defeated Tuesday by Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey).

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WATERWORLD: A slate of candidates affiliated with the political machine of former Rep. Mervyn Dymally captured five of the eight seats on local water boards.

Throughout the campaign, incumbents accused Dymally of trying to stack the financially potent boards of the Central and West Basin municipal water districts, as well as the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. The agencies store and distribute water to communities across the South Bay, Southeast and Westside.

But Dymally and other candidates accused the incumbents of raising smoke screens to avoid talking about the real issues in the campaign, including the diversity of representation, access to contracts for minority businesses and the structure of water rates that some said fall unfairly on poor and urban communities.

Dymally's son, Mark, who headed the slate, and R. Keith McDonald defeated incumbents Charles Stuart and Richard C. Heath on the West Basin board.

Kenneth Orduna, Dymally's former chief of staff, won reelection to the Water Replenishment District. And two other candidates, Richard Mayer and Charles M. Trevino, won seats in the Central Basin. But Dymally candidate Clarence Won, a member of the Water Replenishment District board, lost his bid for reelection.

The younger Dymally, 38, said he wants to examine the West Basin's finances and operations as one of his first priorities. "We are about fairness," he said. "We're about diversity."

Mervyn Dymally said the candidates were successful because they stuck to the issues, but he admitted that his involvement in the race probably gave his slate a boost.

"I suspect the Dymally name helped a little bit," he said.

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