Dist. 30 Race: A Yawner--or a Sleeper?

Times Staff Writer

The Democrats:

Gilbert Barron

Ex-Republican wants to

prepare workers to compete

in tomorrow’s economy

Matthew Martinez

A congressman since

1982, he is facing only

quiet opposition

George Trivich

LaRouche supporter likes

‘Stars Wars’ defense, would

quarantine AIDS victims

The Republicans

John W. Almquist

Non-resident says the

district needs jobs and

‘people feel forgotten’

Michael M. Radlovic

Real estate broker

and Yugoslav native

stresses immigrant status

Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park) survived a bruising primary campaign two years ago in which his opponent, Gladys C. (Candy) Danielson, accused him of absenteeism and incompetence and derided him as a political lightweight.

Stung by the charges, Martinez called his opponent a liar, mounted a vigorous campaign and won renomination in the 30th Congressional District by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

This year Martinez is facing primary opposition again, but instead of being pelted with verbal abuse, he is being lulled to sleep. At least that seems to be part of the strategy of his two Democratic opponents, Gilbert Barron, a member of the Garvey school board in Rosemead who admits that his campaign has been quiet so far, and George Trivich, a backer of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche who says he hopes to enliven his quiet campaign with a last-minute publicity stunt.


Elected to Board by One Vote

Barron, who won election to the school board by a single vote in November, said he has been too busy to campaign much. But he denied that he is without a plan and said his strategy will become evident shortly before the June 3 election.

Asked if he is plotting to embarrass Martinez with last-minute disclosures, Barron said, “We’re not going to run a dirty campaign.”

Then, is Barron hoping to encourage Martinez to take the election for granted and then blind-side him somehow? “That’s closer to it,” he said.

Barron said he expects to spend about $6,000 on the campaign and is counting heavily on volunteer help. “I’ve got a David-versus-Goliath kind of chance,” he said.

Campaign by Press Release

Trivich said his campaign “mostly consists of press releases.” But he said he hopes to blitz the district with leaflets in the final days of the campaign and has a “publicity gimmick” in mind that could draw attention. Trivich declined to identify the gimmick and added that it might prove too expensive to use anyway.

On the Republican side, John W. Almquist, 27, a law clerk, and Michael M. Radlovic, 26, a real estate broker, are competing for the right to be on the ballot in November.

In addition, there is a Libertarian candidate, Kim J. Goldsworthy, 29, a computer programmer who lives in Rosemead. Goldsworthy said he is running to promote the Libertarian philosophy of limited government.

Only 704 Libertarians

There are only 704 Libertarians registered to vote in the district, according to the county registrar-recorder’s office. There are 110,291 Democrats and 53,432 Republicans among the 180,572 registered voters. About half the residents are Latino, but there is a growing Asian population.

The district includes Alhambra, Azusa, Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, El Monte, Irwindale, Maywood, Montebello, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel and Vernon and small parts of Arcadia, Duarte, Glendora, Monrovia and East Los Angeles.

Martinez, 57, won the congressional seat in a special election in 1982, succeeding George Danielson, who resigned to accept a federal judgeship. It was Danielson’s wife who ran against Martinez in the Democratic primary two years ago. Before being elected to Congress, Martinez served a term in the state Assembly and was on the Monterey Park City Council from 1974 to 1980.

Martinez, who said he is not taking the primary election for granted, has opened a campaign headquarters in Montebello and is enlisting volunteers to post signs and call voters.

But, he said, he has seen little evidence of active campaigning by his Democratic rivals. He said LaRouche supporters such as Trivich have rarely done well, although they did score surprising victories in Illinois recently. He said Barron is handicapped by the fact that he is running so soon after winning a four-year term on the school board. To be prepared to abandon that commitment, Martinez said, shows “a lack of integrity.”

Martinez said another strike against Barron is the fact that he changed his registration from Republican to Democrat only about a year ago.

Barron said Martinez is in error about the date of his registration--it was 2 1/2 years ago. Barron said he originally was a Democrat, ran as a Republican in an unsuccessful effort to defeat state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) a decade ago and then returned to the Democratic Party because he thought it had moved in the direction of his own views.

Two Grievances

Barron said he has two grievances against Martinez. He said the congressman refused last year to offer any help when he and other Rosemead residents organized to oppose the construction of a high school in a Rosemead neighborhood. And Barron said Martinez promised to endorse him for the school board and then reneged. In an earlier interview, Martinez said he had not endorsed Barron for the board because Barron “couldn’t be considered a Democrat.” Martinez could not be reached to respond to Barron’s charge that he had reneged on a promised endorsement.

Barron, 48, a telephone company account executive who lives in Rosemead, said his “loyalty is to the people” rather than to any political party. He said he is particularly concerned about jobs and education and believes that government, unions and private industry should form a partnership to prepare workers to compete in tomorrow’s economy.

Trivich, 31, who is a marketing employee for a soft drink bottler and lives in San Gabriel, said he has always been interested in politics and was attracted to LaRouche when he first read his organization’s publications a year ago.

Unconventional Beliefs

LaRouche, who heads a group called the National Democratic Policy Committee, has expressed many unconventional beliefs, including fears that the queen of England is a drug dealer and that Henry Kissinger is a Soviet “agent of influence.” Trivich said he may not agree with everything La Rouche stands for, but he supports many of his proposals, including a call for a laser-beam defense system. And Trivich said he is circulating a proposed state initiative drafted by LaRouche supporters to authorize health authorities to isolate AIDS victims from the general population.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans about 2 to 1 in the 30th District, President Reagan carried the district easily two years ago, a fact that gives Republican strategists some hope in November.

Martinez said Republicans poured more than $1 million into the 1982 campaign against him and made him one of their key targets again two years ago. Martinez won 52% of the vote in 1984 while his Republican opponent gained 43% and the remainder went to a minor-party candidate.

Says Republican Can’t Win

Martinez, who reported only $33,000 in his campaign treasury at the end of March, said a Republican cannot win the district. He said Republicans are welcome “to continue to pour their money in because it’s wasted.” Martinez said his own campaign this year will depend largely on volunteers but he will hire a political consulting firm to prepare and send mailers.

Campaign manager George Pla said Martinez has raised a lot of money since the March campaign report and now has nearly $100,000 on hand. Pla said $50,000 has been budgeted for the campaign, but expenditures will be increased if necessary.

Both Almquist and Radlovic said they think the district is ripe for a Republican victory.

Almquist said he has been walking precincts and finding that “a lot of people feel forgotten.” He said the district needs jobs and the district’s congressman should be pushing for creation of enterprise zones to attract industry through tax incentives.

Lives With Parents

Almquist lives outside the district, with his parents in La Canada Flintridge. But he said he is familiar with the district because he has lived nearby most of his life, worked at a gas station in Alhambra, and has long served as a political volunteer in the San Gabriel Valley. He said he will move into the district if he wins the nomination.

After finishing at La Canada High School, Almquist graduated from USC and the University of San Diego Law School. He is working as a law clerk for a private firm while awaiting the results of the state Bar exam.

Almquist said he believes he is more conservative than Radlovic and has a better understanding of economics, the tax system and foreign affairs.

Radlovic said he does not know whether Almquist is more conservative than he because “I don’t know where he stands.” Radlovic said that instead of downgrading his opponents, he wants to run a positive campaign that will stress what he can do for the district.

Born in Belgrade

In a district with large numbers of immigrants, both Asian and Latino, Radlovic is stressing his own background. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1959, he came with his parents to this country in 1961. He attended Claremont’s Webb School and Claremont High School, played football at Saddleback College in Orange County and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine.

Radlovic is a licensed real estate broker involved primarily in leasing property in the Flair Industrial Complex in El Monte.

He has opened a campaign headquarters and has secured endorsements from a number of the area’s leading Republicans, including Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) and Richard Gomez, who was the party’s nominee against Martinez two years ago.

Radlovic, who lives in Alhambra, said he has been walking precincts to meet voters, particularly in the district’s Republican strongholds, in Alhambra and San Gabriel. He said he is raising money at the rate of about $1,000 a day to finance the campaign.