One Assembly candidate is an insurance agent, another is a high school math teacher. Two are corporate consultants; two are retirees. One is a laid-off software engineer, actively seeking a job.
The best-known of the bunch is Tom McClintock, a former Republican assemblyman anxious to return to public office now that his party has seized control of the Assembly.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday March 19, 1996 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 6 Zones Desk 2 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Candidates' Photos--In an article Sunday on the race in the 38th Assembly District, two photographs were reversed in candidate biographies. The photo of David E. Ross was incorrectly placed with the biography of Ross Hopkins, and a photo of Hopkins ran with the Ross biography.
Six Republicans and two Democrats are fighting for a chance to replace Assemblywoman Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills) at year's end, when she will be forced out of the Assembly by voter-imposed term limits.
The Republicans have mounted more aggressive campaigns for the seat that represents the 38th Assembly District, an area that straddles the Ventura-Los Angeles county line and is dominated by Republican voters.
"This seat is a complete lock for the Republican Party," said Scott Wilk, Boland's chief of staff. "The Republican who wins the March primary can vacation in Mexico the rest of the year and still win comfortably in November."
Mindful of the importance of the primary election, some Republican candidates started early this year sending out flurries of political mailers--flurries expected to turn into a blizzard between now and March 26.
McClintock has one of the most ambitious election campaigns of the Republican candidates. He plans to spend at least $170,000 to persuade voters that he is a "taxpayer's hero," whom they should send back to the Assembly to slash taxes and government spending.
McClintock left the Assembly in 1992 to run for Congress. He lost that bid and then ran another unsuccessful campaign in 1994 for state controller.
He jumped into the 38th Assembly District race at the last minute after he was recruited by one of California's most conservative and politically powerful organizations, a collection of Orange County-based PACs affiliated with state Senate GOP leader Rob Hurtt of Garden Grove.
That has inspired genuine resentment among the other Republican contenders.
One of them, longtime Simi Valley Republican activist Bob Larkin, sent out a mailer denouncing the "Orange County Octopus" coiled around the 38th Assembly District. "It is made up of the 'radical right' Political Action Committees that are shaping the state Legislature to their liking," the letter said.
One of the Orange County PACs urged McClintock to run after conducting a poll showing he was fairly well-regarded among voters in the district.
So far, contributions from these PACs have yet to show up on McClintock's financial reports. And McClintock said he does not need their help, having already raised what he needs to run his campaign.
Following a bare-knuckled strategy, McClintock has tried to dry up the financial contributions to his rivals. He sent political power brokers in Sacramento the results of his campaign's public opinion survey conducted last month showing him with a 4-1 lead over Larkin, his nearest Republican rival.
"We wanted to save them the trouble of wasting their money," said Wayne C. Johnson, a Sacramento-based consultant to McClintock's campaign.
Republican candidate Steve Frank of Simi Valley disputes the validity of the poll.
He also takes jabs at McClintock as a professional politician and political opportunist who has been living in Sacramento but rented an apartment in Simi Valley to meet the legal residency requirement for the race.
In contrast, Frank said, he has been living in the district for 20 years, the last eight years in Simi Valley.
Frank bills himself as the most conservative candidate in the race and rattles off a list of conservative causes that range from helping with Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign to stumping for Proposition 187, which denies education and medical benefits to illegal immigrants.
"My aim is not to make laws, but repeal them," Frank said.
Frank has suffered a couple of embarrassing moments during the campaign, most recently when his campaign sent out a letter that misspelled the name and signature of state Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley). She is one of his biggest supporters.
The first uncomfortable moment for him came last month at a state Republican convention in Burlingame.
Opponents placed leaflets on the chairs of conventioneers, detailing how Frank collected nearly $30,000 from law firms after he had denounced statewide ballot propositions aimed at reining in lawyers and various types of lawsuits.
"Don't be fooled by someone financed by the liberal trial lawyers," the leaflet said.
Frank defends his opposition to capping attorneys' contingency fees and creating a pure "no-fault" form of auto insurance, saying he is following true Republican free-market principles and personal responsibility.
"The issue is, do you have some responsibility when you drive a car," Frank said. And once the government caps attorneys' fees, he said, will it then place limits on the fees of physicians, mechanics or accountants. "Unfortunately, the people pushing this don't believe in the free market," he said.