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Gallegly and Capps Well Ahead

Incumbents for the state Assembly are also heading to victory, thanks partly to funding advantages and redrawn districts.

November 06, 2002|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

Incumbents were headed to decisive victories Tuesday in Ventura County's races for state Assembly and Congress.

Leading Democratic opponent Fern Rudin by about 2 to 1, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) was on his way to a ninth term in Congress.

"It always feels good to win," said Gallegly before joining the county Republican Central Committee in a tailgate party outside the courthouse in Ventura. Gallegly said he was particularly pleased because it was his first victory in inland Santa Barbara County, a new part of his district.

The apparent margin of victory was smaller for Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), but she was still far ahead of Beth Rogers, a Republican businesswoman from a pioneering Ventura County farming family.

In Assembly races, Democratic incumbent Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) was easily beating Michael Wissot, a San Fernando Valley Internet entrepreneur.

"My victory reaffirms what I really believe: My district values environmental protection, quality education, and an activist government," said Pavley, whose centerpiece bill was the nation's first ban on vehicular greenhouse gases.

Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) appeared headed to an overwhelming victory over Democratic businessman Bruce Thomas.

And Republican incumbent Keith Richman, whose district overlaps Simi Valley and the west San Fernando Valley, was a runaway winner over Democrat Paula Calderon.

With Republican challenger Bob Pohl out of the race because of cancer, Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) was cruising to her third term.

Incumbents were further boosted by the once-a-decade redrawing of their districts. Each of Ventura County's state and federal incumbents ended up with more voters of his or her own party after redistricting.

With local challengers in those races at a greater disadvantage than usual, the major parties for the most part did not pour resources into their campaigns. Making her first bid for elected office, Rudin raised less than $5,000 to unseat Gallegly, whose treasury topped $1 million.

Most of the challengers had never held office, although some had political experience. Rudin ran the Clinton-Gore campaigns in eastern Ventura County. Wissot was formerly employed by Sen. John McCain.

The Capps-Rogers race drew the most attention, generating contributions of more than $2.7 million. Rogers was seen as a strong contender, with credentials that included party activism and experience running her family's 200-employee sod farm.

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