In an attempt to set the agenda for next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary, state Sen. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) has challenged Mayor Tom Bradley to spell out his vision for California's future.
The man with the best ideas, Garamendi said, should then take on Republican Gov. George Deukmejian in 1986.
Bradley lost to Deukmejian in 1982, and there are signs that he wants a rematch. Garamendi, who lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Bradley that year, believes it is now his turn to take on Deukmejian.
"We are going to challenge the mayor of Los Angeles to debate the future," Garamendi said Tuesday night in Los Angeles during a meeting of the California Democrats for New Leadership, a group that includes many supporters of U.S. Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential bid. "We'll see if his (Bradley's) ideas are there. If they are wonderful, then we'll all follow him. If they're not, well, we have the ideas that can lead California in the future."
No Formal Debate
Garamendi's top aide, Tom Epstein, said Wednesday that the senator was not suggesting that Garamendi and Bradley actually sit down for a debate.
Rather, Epstein said, the senator wants Bradley to publicly discuss his vision of California's future.
Said Epstein: "John is saying, 'Let Bradley lay out his vision of where he thinks the state should go in the next two decades. How can it maintain its position as one of the world's strongest economies?'
"He is also saying, 'Look, I'm out here telling Democrats the problems I think the state has to address, because I think I have a role to play. . . . If I'm not going to be the leader of this party in 1986, I want to hear from the other likely candidate.' "
In his talk with the young Democrats group, Garamendi said that future California governors must link education to jobs, clean up and protect the environment, improve public safety and increase the state's manufacturing base.
Garamendi often accuses Deukmejian of having no ideas on these subjects. But so far, Garamendi has provided few details of what he would do.
"We have some details," Epstein said, "and in a few months we will have a detailed document on just what John would do."
Epstein said that Garamendi will probably open a campaign office in Los Angeles "in the next couple of months. . . . We are organizing a finance committee of large donors, and we are starting up a 500 Club of people who can give $500 contributions."
John Emerson, chairman of the California Democrats for New Leadership, emphasized that the group was not endorsing anyone for the governor's race at this time and hopes to meet with Bradley too.
Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Tom Houston, a Bradley political adviser, said: "I think he (Bradley) would be willing to talk about his vision of the future for Los Angeles, which is a large part of California. . . . At this stage, if Garamendi has some good ideas, he ought to lay them out to the state Senate."