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Elections '96: A Voter Handbook | The Fight for Calfiornia:
Candidates for president, the Congress and the Legislature
are among those fighting for your attention and your
vote Tuesday. A look at the combatants.

Names of the Game : From Ann Landers to Steve Martin to James Bond, Candidates Find That Their Monikers Can Be a Blessing--and a Curse

November 03, 1996|TOM GORMAN and NONA YATES | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

In politics, they say, name recognition is everything.

So Ann Landers might have the answer to winning election Tuesday to the Atascadero City Council.

And Richard Ramirez might be embraced as Paso Robles' city clerk, the official recorder of the council's night talkers.

Landers and Ramirez are, of course, not the advice columnist and the "Night Stalker." She sells home water purifiers, and he's the current Paso Robles city manager--who is also seeking, for efficiency's sake, the $1-a-year clerk's job.

They are among a handful of people seeking election Tuesday to various posts in California who are blessed--or burdened--with famous names.

"I do think I can give good advice," said Landers. "I've lived here for 25 years and can read between the lines in this town. And like the other Ann Landers, I care about people."

Unlike Death Row's Satan-worshiping new bridegroom, the civil Ramirez says he's a regular churchgoer--and has been married 24 years. "People here are very understanding," the Paso Robles official said.

Ramirez is not the only famous name in town. A delegation of somber Japanese businessmen burst into laughter when introduced to Steve Martin. Never mind that he's a city councilman seeking reelection.

Martin said he absorbed some wild and crazy ribbing when a local movie marquee promoted Steve Martin in "The Jerk."

In another race, Henri Mancini is running a composed campaign for the City Council of Cathedral City. She's a professional pianist, for good measure. Depending on the election outcome, it'll be a day of either whine or roses.

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In Encinitas, voters will decide whether they are shaken or stirred to reelect Bond. James Bond. This one is more familiar with 411 than 007; the city councilman is a retired mid-level manager for Pacific Bell.

Wonder if he knows Diana Spencer--the one who's running for the Frazier Park Public Utility District, not the woman who later became the Princess of Wales.

Jesse James, last name Puckett, is banking on election to the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District. Jesse James for rural protection? "I want to take the money from the rich people in town and bring it out here to the poor folks in the county," he said.

Howard Johnson is a Libertarian from Los Angeles who hopes to take up lodging in Congress. But there's no Howard Johnson's in his district so, if he wins, he says he'll celebrate at his law office.

No stooge, Jerry Lewis isn't giving up the ship in his bid for reelection to Congress from the Redlands and high desert area. A supporter once wrote his campaign a check made out to the "Jerry Lewis Telethon." But then, it's only money on the road to a three-ring circus in a mad mad mad mad world.

And David Crockett is taking aim at the state Assembly, inspired by his great-great-great-great-uncle--the American frontiersmen who served in Congress. And he's braced to meet the same sort of fate.

Crockett, a clothing manufacturer in Sausalito, is an outgunned Republican in a Democratic stronghold. "I feel," he said, "like I'm at the Alamo."

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