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CAMPAIGN 2000

Term Limits Leave 5 Races Up for Grabs

Assembly: Among early returns, GOP's Richman leads in 38th and Democrat Freeman holds slim margin in 41st. Krekorian is in front in 43rd Democratic primary.

March 08, 2000|PATRICK McGREEVY and SOLOMON MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

With term limits opening several Assembly seats in the San Fernando Valley to all-comers, Keith Stuart Richman was leading Tuesday in early returns in the 38th District Republican primary, while utility manager S. David Freeman was leading by a slim margin in the hotly contested Democratic primary in the 41st District.

Early returns also showed attorney Paul Krekorian of Burbank ahead of three candidates in the Democratic primary for the 43rd Assembly District seat, West Hollywood City Councilman Paul Koretz was leading in early returns in the 42nd District Democratic primary, and La Canada Flintridge Mayor Carol Liu was heading a field of three in the 44th District's Democratic primary. Television commentator Susan Carpenter-McMillan was leading in the 44th District Republican race.

There are five Assembly seats up for grabs in the Valley because the incumbents have been turned out of office by term limits, or are running for other offices.

"The races are very wide open," said John Shallman, a Valley political consultant. "You have gotten a real cross-section of people backing all the candidates."

Running unopposed in their primaries were incumbent Assemblymen Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar), Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and George Runner (R-Lancaster), all of whom will face challengers in November.

For most other districts, heavy majorities in partisan voter registration means primary winners are often considered strong front-runners for election in the November general election.

GOP voters are dominant in the 38th Assembly District, where three well-known candidates vied for the nomination to succeed incumbent Republican Tom McClintock of Northridge, who is being forced out by term limits and is running for state Senate.

McClintock and his predecessor in the seat, Paula Boland, have backed Simi Valley school board member Norm Walker, the most conservative candidate in the race.

But Walker, a former McClintock aide, has been outspent by Northridge physician Keith Stuart Richman, who has the backing of Riordan and county Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

"We put in a great campaign," Richman told 100 cheering supporters at a Simi Valley restaurant. "I'm happy that I'm in the lead. We've done everything well."

Richman, who campaigned for education and health-care reform, credited a grass-roots campaign, which he was already planning to muster for the general election in November.

A Riordan appointee to the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency board, Richman raised more than $550,000--including $350,000 that he loaned the campaign from his own pocket--in comparison with $143,000 raised by Walker and $25,000 brought in by Hopkins.

The third Republican contender is Ross B. Hopkins, a public affairs consultant from Canoga Park who is former chairman of both the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley and the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.

The winner of the primary will have an advantage in November.

Republicans hold a lead in voter registration, with 43% to Democrats' 39%, in a district that extends from Simi Valley to Granada Hills and Canoga Park.

Jon Lauritzen, a computer and math teacher from Chatsworth, is the candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, while businessman Philip Baron is the lone Libertarian Party candidate.

The primary also was seen as important in the 42nd Assembly District, where 55% of the registered voters are Democrats and just 23% Republican.

The field of contenders in the Democratic primary included West Hollywood City Councilman Paul Koretz, attorney Amanda Susskind and physician Dan Stone,

Koretz was nervous despite an early lead over Susskind.

"It's been a good campaign," he said. "I have had tremendous support from people such as Gray Davis, the Labor movement and Sierra Club and every type of individual. Every avenue of life is represented in my campaign."

Koretz said he was eager to go to Sacramento.

"I am the only candidate with experience. I can hit the ground running," Koretz said.

Incumbent Wally Knox is being forced by term limits to leave the seat, which represents an area that includes parts of Sherman Oaks, Universal City, Studio City, Beverly Hills, Westwood and West Hollywood.

Koretz and Susskind raised a combined $1 million for the race, with Susskind sparking controversy last week when she received more than $100,000 from Native American tribes pushing a measure to expand Indian gaming on tribal lands.

Susskind had the backing of Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and several Democratic state legislators, including Sen. Richard Polanco of Los Angeles.

"I'm just grateful for all the support I've gotten. I feel blessed," Susskind said.

Koretz said his priorities are educational reform, gun control and improving transportation, while Susskind said her priorities are strengthening early childhood education and providing universal health care.

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