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Cranston Backs Woo; Both May Reap Dividends

Times Staff Writer

California’s senior senator, Alan Cranston, paid a visit Sunday to the campaign headquarters of fledgling politician Michael Woo for an endorsement that could pay political dividends to the campaigns of both the veteran and the neophyte.

For Woo, running against Los Angeles City Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson for the 13th Council District seat, Cranston’s blessing represents the most prestigious endorsement to be bestowed on either candidate during the nearly completed campaign. Cranston said that both Woo and Stevenson sought his support.

Could Pay Dividends

For Cranston, a Democrat who may be facing a tough reelection fight next year, the gesture toward Woo could play very well among Asian voters and fund-raisers, who are becoming an increasingly visible presence in California politics. Cranston’s aides have told reporters that the senator, a past master at developing new sources of financial backing, began building bridges to Asian groups after seeing how helpful they were to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley during his successful reelection campaign earlier this year.

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Outside Woo’s campaign headquarters Sunday, the 70-year-old Cranston and the 33-year-old Woo stood with their hands on each other’s backs, full of praise for one another.

“Mike will be the only city planner on the City Council,” Cranston said. “He’s an activist who will cope with the problems of crime and cleaning up the 13th District.”

Woo, a former aide to state Sen. David A. Roberti, has a master’s degree in city planning.

Cranston was asked why he had decided to get involved in a local council race. He replied that the city needs “creative leadership” and that Woo, whom he said he has known for many years, could supply it.

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He also said that Woo had personally called and asked for his help. Cranston said that someone had called him on behalf of Stevenson.

Asked why he had decided not to support her, Cranston said he did not want to make any negative comments.

Woo, in thanking Cranston for his endorsement, called the senator “a great leader who embodies both a sense of idealism and pragmatism,” and added: “I want to be the same kind of leader.”

Series of Endorsements

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Coming two days before Tuesday’s election, Cranston’s endorsement climaxed several days of heated campaigning, highlighted by a series of endorsements and counter-endorsements that started when City Councilmen Marvin Braude and Zev Yaroslavsky broke with council protocol to publicly oppose a colleague, Stevenson, and endorse a council challenger, Woo.

A few days later, two other council members, Pat Russell and Joel Wachs, who have been bitter foes, got together to make a joint appearance on behalf of Stevenson.

Stevenson later made a campaign appearance with Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates who praised her efforts to reduce crime in the district.

On Saturday, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner appeared with Woo to denounce an accusation, made in a Stevenson campaign brochure, that Woo is under investigation in connection with a 1981 contribution he received from an Orange County businessman who has pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to a number of California politicians.

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