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FRIDAY REPORT / An in-depth look at people and policies
shaping Los Angeles County | Local Elections / ASSEMBLY
/ 53rd Assembly District

Bill Eggers (R) vs. George Nakano (D)

October 09, 1998

There is little doubt that Republicans have embraced their surprise nominee in this district: Gov. Pete Wilson topped the guest list at a GOP fund-raiser in Hermosa Beach last month for Bill Eggers, a government reform policy expert for the Libertarian-oriented Reason Public Policy Institute.

The expected Republican nominee failed to get on the June primary ballot, leaving Eggers, who is making his first bid for elected office, the sole contender for the party's nomination.

By contrast, Democrat George Nakano ran far ahead in a crowded primary field, helped by his backing from organized labor and the contacts and experience he has built up in his 14 years on the Torrance City Council.

Strategists in both major parties see the district's largest city--conservative, middle-class Torrance--as the key to this race.

Republicans badly want this moderate coastal district as part of their larger goal of recapturing a majority in the state Assembly, where Democrats now hold a six-seat majority.

Democrats feel fairly confident, however, that Nakano can keep the seat for them, citing his strong primary showing and political base.

Eggers did better than Nakano among independent voters in the primary, however, and that has bolstered Republican hopes.

Hoping to make integrity an issue in his race rather than government experience, the Eggers campaign has made much of campaign contributions that Nakano received during his unsuccessful run for the state Senate in 1994.

Some of Nakano's contributors later surfaced as key figures in the national Democratic fund-raising scandals and pleaded guilty to money laundering charges. Nakano, saying that he knew nothing about the donors' other activities, has rejected Eggers' call for him to return the contributions to the earlier campaign.

Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans, 42% to 39%.

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