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Rogan, Schiff Wooing Seniors in Final Push

U.S. House race targets crucial group of voters as candidates scramble for last-minute edge.


Seniors were the target Wednesday as both Rep. James Rogan and his challenger, state Sen. Adam Schiff, moved to woo a potentially crucial group in the final stage of their hard-fought race for a seat in Congress.

Incumbent Rogan (R-Glendale), stuck in Washington, D.C., taped a message that will be played for senior citizens today in the district he is fighting hard to keep, which includes Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.

And Schiff (D-Burbank) collected endorsements and attended several gatherings of seniors, saying his record on their behalf is the stronger.

People 65 years and older make up about 22% of the voters in the district, and about 50.3% of them are Republicans, while 41.3% are Democrats. Of all registered voters in the district, 44% are Democratic and 37% are Republican.

Each candidate pushed messages supporting protection for Social Security, calling for prescription drug benefits for Medicare patients and endorsing HMO reform.

Schiff began the day with an appearance at a senior health fair at St. Luke Medical Center in Pasadena. More than 1,000 senior citizens attended, many drawn by the promise of the first flu shots available this year in the area.

"We have taken a number of very positive steps in the [state] Legislature on health issues," Schiff told the crowd seated under a large tent in the parking lot. "We have passed one of the strongest Patients' Bill of Rights in the nation."

Responding later in the day in a telephone interview, Rogan spokesman Jeff Solsby said the congressman favored legislation giving patients more protections. Rogan has a strong record fighting for seniors and voters are responding well to his message, Solsby said.

"Adam Schiff is talking about it, but Congressman Rogan is doing it," Solsby said of advocating for seniors. "The Congress just voted again for a lockbox to protect 100% of Social Security funds from being spent on other programs. Congress also modernized Medicare this year."

Later Wednesday, Schiff accepted the endorsement of the National Council of Senior Citizens at the Pasadena Senior Center.

The group of more than 2,000 senior clubs, founded in 1961, cited Schiff's "commitment to programs vital to the elderly such as Social Security, and the enactment of a universal prescription drug benefit under Medicare."

Schiff charged that Rogan has "affirmatively worked against the interests of seniors on issues including patients' rights and Social Security."

With less than a week before Tuesday's election, Rogan remained stuck in Washington on Wednesday because of the budget impasse. Frustrated by his inability to return to his district sooner, Rogan videotaped a speech to be played at a senior citizen forum today at the Pasadena Senior Center.

Although it is uncertain whether Congress will let out before the weekend, Rogan is hoping for a recess so he can jet back to Southern California on Friday, giving him scant time for one last barnstorming of his district.

Among those attending the senior fair were Marilyn Maxwell and Shirley McConnell of Pasadena, longtime friends who disagree over whether Rogan has served the district well for the last four years.

"I do not like Rogan," McConnell said, complaining that he is too conservative and that she disagreed with his aggressive work as a House prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

Maxwell, a 75-year-old registered Republican, said Rogan was just doing his duty.

"As long as there was an impeachment, somebody had to fill those [manager] positions," Maxwell said.

Even so, Maxwell said she has not yet decided whom to vote for and has been frustrated by the large amount of negative, seemingly contradictory political advertising sent out by the two candidates.

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