YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS : Hoge Wins Mudslinging Campaign on GOP Tide : 44th District: Both Assembly candidates invest heavily on negative ads. Republican wins 52.6% to 42.3%.


The slew of negative mailers, billboards and cable television spots were not the key to the 10-point victory Assemblyman Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena) scored over Democrat Bruce Philpott, Pasadena's former police chief, in the 44th District, pundits said.

"No. 1 is the R after Hoge's name," said political scientist Alan Heslop, a professor at Claremont McKenna College. "That's not a bad Republican district and it was a great Republican night."

Democratic voters hold a 2% edge in the 44th District, which includes portions of the San Fernando Valley, Altadena, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, San Marino, South Pasadena and parts of Arcadia, San Gabriel and Temple City. But political wisdom holds that Republicans turn out to vote at higher rates than Democrats.

Hoge jumped out to a substantial lead early Tuesday night and, while it narrowed some, he was declared the winner of the bitter race Wednesday morning. Returns showed Hoge winning by a 52.6% to 42.3% margin.

"I talked about fighting crime, fighting for jobs and fighting illegal immigration," said Hoge, who has written a number of anti-crime bills as a freshman lawmaker. "I believe that I, throughout the entire campaign, addressed the issues."

Philpott did not return calls for comment, but campaign spokesman Jerry Jeffe attributed the outcome to the Republican fervor sweeping the state and the nation.

"He just got caught up in a year where everything went wrong," Jeffe said.

During the campaign, Hoge and Philpott both declared themselves enemies of crime. Hoge supported Proposition 187, which seeks to cut off some public services to illegal immigrants, while Philpott opposed the measure.

But a good portion of their resources paid for mudslinging. Hoge set the tone in the primary, even though he and Philpott were running unopposed.

The assemblyman put out mailers accusing Philpott of abusing his standing as a police chief by giving two Glendale officers a tongue-lashing during a 1990 traffic stop.

Philpott groused that he was justified in protesting the stop, which he said occurred only after the officers saw his date was an African American woman. He accused Hoge of hitting early to dry up his fund-raising base.

Hoge, who declined to debate Philpott, sharpened his blows in the days before Tuesday's election. A Hoge mailer alerted voters to "The Bruce Philpott Drinking and Driving Story," though Philpott was never arrested nor cited for drunk driving in the 1990 incident.

Philpott showed a knack for negative campaigning as well. The former police chief filmed a commercial inside a San Diego County card club and aired the spot on local cable television painting Hoge as a point man for gambling interests.

At first avoiding interviews, Hoge surfaced in the week before the election and said he had done nothing wrong in accepting campaign contributions from the horse racing and casino industry--about $140,000--while carrying legislation for those gambling interests, which operate in his district.

Los Angeles Times Articles