YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Precinct Is Microcosm of Shifting District

Vote: Fate of Rogan, Schiff rides on changes like those in Glendale neighborhood.


De Lores Everts voted for Rep. James E. Rogan four years ago, when the 450 people who went to the polls in her north Glendale precinct favored Rogan by a cushy 60-vote margin.

The operating room nurse voted for Rogan again in 1998, when the Republican congressman squeaked by with a 15-vote reelection margin in the precinct.

But Everts, like her quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, has been undergoing a political shift. This time, Everts says, things will be different.

Four years of Rogan's conservative policies has been enough for Everts, who switched her registration from Republican to Democrat and plans to vote for Democratic challenger Adam Schiff, a state senator from Burbank, in one of the most closely watched and expensive congressional races in the nation. Democrats need to win seven seats to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and they hope this will be one of those gains.

"He lost my confidence," Everts said of Rogan, citing the lawmaker's opposition to abortion and complaining that he has not done enough on other women's issues.

And there was Rogan's role as a House prosecutor in the impeachment of President Clinton.

"I was totally disappointed with Rogan," she said. "I thought it was a cheap shot. Nobody gives a damn about what the president does in the bedroom. We care more that we have a balanced budget, that there are more jobs, that there is a better quality of life."

Like much of the 27th Congressional District, Everts' precinct, which is west of Brand Boulevard and north of Glenoaks Boulevard, is no longer the bastion of white conservatism that once earned it the reputation of being a little Orange County in Los Angeles.

There has been a large influx of immigrants, and today about a third of the 938 registered voters in the precinct are Asian, Latino or Armenian American.

The shifts have led Rogan to spend the early months of his campaign targeting Democrats and independents, here and in the district as a whole.

The candidates have raised a combined $7.5 million, and the contest is expected to be the costliest House race in U.S. history. Clinton personally helped Schiff raise $250,000 at a Washington fund-raiser June 27.

"I'm spending considerable time in minority communities and it shows in my campaign's ability to attract . . . crossover voters," Rogan said. "This means I can't spend as much time at the chambers of commerce and Rotary clubs."

Changes Seen in Republican Base

Rogan has only recently begun diverting some of that effort to shore up his Republican base in precincts like 2550069A in north Glendale. The eight-square-block area is home to about 2,000 people. Once a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes, it has, in the last few decades, seen a transition to upper-scale apartment buildings and condominiums, a leafy green haven punctuated by a small commercial strip that includes a Korean-owned cafe.

Rogan is counting on voters like Frances Campbell, a staunch partisan in an area of declining loyalty. The Republican lead in voter registration in the precinct has dropped in recent years, and now the breakdown is 41.7% Republican vs. 36.4% Democratic. The registration of the entire congressional district is 44% Democratic and 37% Republican.

Campbell voted for Rogan in 1996 and 1998, and in this year's primary. She plans to vote for him again in November.

"He just seems more mature than the other guy," said Campbell, who teaches at a computer lab. "I just like him and the way he has represented me. He stands on principle."

She agreed with Rogan's stand on impeachment, even though she voted for Clinton the first time he ran.

As did many of her neighbors. Clinton won the congressional district in 1992 and 1996, beating Bob Dole in the precinct in 1996.

"The changes have been very dramatic," Schiff said. "The opportunity for us is, we have a new economy based very much on technology and a lot of young people moving in."

Schiff's campaign has targeted young professionals, many of them Democrats, but also "the younger, more socially liberal Republicans, the more wired workers," said Parke Skelton, a campaign consultant for the senator.

In 1998, Rogan won the district as a whole and the precinct by about 51% to 46%.

But in the March open primary, Schiff won the district, 48.8%, to 47.3% for Rogan, while the incumbent won the precinct by three percentage points.

Two months before election day, mailers and television commercials are becoming ubiquitous.

Rogan began his campaign with media buys in May, forcing Schiff to buy time on cable television and to send mail months before he had planned to do so, Skelton said.

"My message to them is, look at our track record," Schiff said. "My opponent has done virtually nothing in Congress for the benefit of the district."

Because Rogan can win all of the Republican vote and still lose the election, his strategy until now has been almost exclusively aimed at Democrats and independents.

Los Angeles Times Articles