Dixon on Course for 5th Term in House
After easily brushing aside challengers in four previous elections, Democrat Julian Dixon might well conclude that he is doing something right in the eyes of voters in the 28th Congressional District.
His winning ways--76% of the vote last time and 79% in 1982--may be partly attributed to his image as a cool, competent politician who pays close attention to the needs and interests of his constituents.
It also helps to have a district in which Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 4 to 1.
But Dixon’s strongest suit, as he goes for what seems likely to be a routine reelection to a fifth term in Congress, may be a close match between what he does in Washington and what at least three-fourths of his constituents want him to do.
Dixon said he works to keep federal dollars flowing into social programs for the poor and jobless in his diverse district. At the same time, he said, he is mindful of the many middle-class, upwardly mobile folks out there who are concerned about taxes, crime, improving schools and keeping up the appearance of their neighborhoods.
Dixon is willing to give what he calls a cost-of-living increase to the defense industry, which provides an estimated 200,000 jobs in his district. But apparently he was in tune with many voters in his district when he opposed the MX missile and other military projects as unnecessary and too costly shortly before the general election in 1984.
To put it simply, he said in a recent interview, “I would like to see less money spent for defense and more for social programs.”
He supported President Reagan’s bombing attack on Libya, saying that it delivered a needed message that terrorists must pay for their conduct. On the other hand, Dixon contends that military force is not the way to deal with the problem in Nicaragua, so he steadfastly opposes aid for the contra rebels in that country.
Dixon voted against the Gramm-Rudman bill, arguing that it is a mechanical approach to deficit cutting that takes a disproportionate share of federal funds from bread-and-butter domestic programs. Yet he said he is concerned about the federal deficit and wants to make a balanced budget a “high priority . . . keeping in account our people’s immediate needs.”
Faced with this neatly balanced, proven approach to serving a mostly liberal urban community, Dixon’s opponents in the primary and general elections are left to hope that changes in the political climate since 1984 have aroused new forces that could sweep out the veteran incumbent.
Dixon’s June primary opponent--his first since 1978--is a Lyndon LaRouche follower who is hoping that the 28th District is ready for the splinter party’s solutions to world and domestic problems.
And in the November elections, the winner of the Republican nomination will be hoping that a district that gave Reagan only 32% of its vote in 1984 will at last have seen the President’s light.
Dixon’s voting record in Congress brings him high ratings from liberal special-interest groups, such as 95% from Americans for Democratic Action and the Committee on Political Education of the AFL-CIO and 90% from the American Civil Liberties Union.
On the other side, the American Conservative Union starts Dixon out at zero, and from there he goes up to a 38% rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The National Journal, in its 1984 overall ratings, ranked Dixon at 75% for liberal-oriented votes on economic issues, 84% on social and 81% on foreign.
In his last campaign financial report for the period ending March 31, Dixon recorded $68,577 in earlier donations, $7,225 in new receipts, $11,058 in expenses and a cash balance of $64,744.
Dixon’s primary opponent, Joe Alcoset, 38, is an aerospace logistics analyst who has been active in the LaRouche movement for about five years. Like other LaRouche candidates, he is hoping for a protest vote against the incumbent, like the one in the March Illinois primary.
“A lot of people are looking for alternatives,” said Alcoset, who lives in Culver City. “They’re ready for political change.”
In explaining his political views, Alcoset recites LaRouche doctrines that defy easy labels because they span the philosophical spectrum.
He is strong on building the so-called Star Wars defense shield against nuclear missiles, and he subscribes to the “evil empire” view of Soviet communism. Score one for the more conservative backers of President Reagan?
However, he is dead set against the Gramm-Rudman Act--which prescribes Draconian measures to overcome the federal deficit by 1991--because he says it eliminates a wide range of social services that people need.
Supports Federal Spending
He is enthusiastic about massive federal spending to spur the national and world economy, and he believes that strong measures must be taken to pull mankind back from the nuclear abyss. Score one for the liberal view?
But the massive government spending proposed by LaRouche would go for right-now, all-out crash programs to develop the Star Wars defense and for such super projects as building new transportation systems, bringing unlimited supplies of fresh water from Canada to this country and transforming African deserts into gardens.
These and other monumental efforts, according to LaRouche’s scenario, would hasten the arrival of a future world of peace and prosperity for all nations.
Score one for H. G. Wells--or perhaps for a great, if largely unappreciated, visionary?
Interviews with Alcoset and other LaRouche candidates indicate that the leader of the splinter group may use a novel symbolic language in trying to communicate his ideas through the media. Two examples offered by LaRouche candidates:
When LaRouche charges that the Queen of England is a drug pusher, he does not mean that she is actually dealing dope at Buckingham Palace. He means to shock the world into awareness that the queen and other national leaders have, as LaRouche sees it, acquiesced to rampant drug use by their citizens. That, in LaRouche language, is the same as condoning and even participating in drug-related crimes.
When he accuses Henry Kissinger of being a Soviet “agent of influence,” he doesn’t really mean that the former secretary of state is on the Kremlin’s payroll. LaRouche means that, in his view, Kissinger pursued policies that advanced the interests of the Soviet Union as surely as if he had been a communist agent.
Alcoset has not yet filed a campaign financial report. Federal candidates are not required to file reports until they have received or spent $500 or more.
On the Republican side of the primary slate, three candidates have filed for their party’s nomination. They generally express a theme often heard this year from GOP candidates in other districts: strong identification with President Reagan and a desire to go to Washington to help him achieve his goals in the next Congress.
“The President needs more support,” said George Adams, 60, a prominent Latino businessman and political organizer. “Mr. Dixon does not seem to understand our country’s need to move forward on the economic front and to take strong measures to stop terrorism and communism.”
Free Enterprise ‘Wonderful’
Adams, who heads a high-technology transportation firm in Los Angeles, said he views free enterprise as “wonderful system to motivate people to produce so that life can be better for everyone.”
At the same time, he said, “there are always people who need help and we mustn’t neglect them” or be stingy in supporting public education and other essential services.
Adams, a Westchester resident, is a co-founder of the Republican Hispanic Assembly of California and is now co-chairman of the national group. He has helped organize a number of other political groups, including the Interamerican Lincoln Club. He is currently chairman of the Small Businessmen’s Assn. of California.
Adams said he was born in Cuba of American parents and attended college with Fidel Castro. The encounter, he said, gave him insights into the roots of a communist movement.
‘Geopolitical Power Play’
“Believe me, Cuba didn’t go for communism because of poverty and bad social conditions,” said Adams, who moved to the United States in 1945. “It was a geopolitical power play on Fidel’s part. He was stupid to break off ties with America, which was Cuba’s best and oldest friend.”
Adams noted that about 24% of the district’s potential voters are Latino, but said he was “running as a congressman for everyone. We must never allow our country to become polarized.”
Adams has not yet filed a campaign financial report.
Lionel Allen’s energetic campaign for the Republican nomination also emphasizes strong loyalty to the President, combined with what he calls “upright Christian morals.”
“The color of my blood is red, white and blue,” he said, when it comes to supporting Reagan on aid to Nicaragua’s and other “measures opposing communism.”
Allen, 32, of Mar Vista, said he operates his own insurance and real estate business. Forceful in presenting his views, Allen said he sees himself as the only GOP candidate with a realistic chance of beating Dixon in the November elections.
“Dixon is an articulate black Democrat, Allen is an articulate black Republican,” Allen said. “In this district, it’s going to take a candidate of my status and type to beat him.”
If he gets past the primary, Allen said, he will be able to raise at least a million dollars with the help of celebrity supporters. He said part of his strategy in the Democrat-dominated district will be to show voters of both parties that Dixon is a threat to the jobs of defense workers.
The congressman, Allen said, voted against the MX missile and other military projects, and by Allen’s reckoning, “over 50,000 high-technology workers stand to lose their jobs if Dixon is reelected.”
In clarifying his estimate, which he said was based on pending military bills in Congress and assessments by defense contractors awaiting new projects, Allen said Dixon’s reelection would “enhance” the possibility that the district would lose defense-related jobs.
Two years ago, Allen ran unsuccessfully against Rob Scribner in the Republican primary in Democratic Rep. Mel Levine’s 27th District. His candidacy then was hindered by published reports that he had used campaign funds to buy a luxury car and other personal items and had once been convicted of writing bad checks. His conviction was later expunged.
Allen’s campaign funds that year were obtained through personal loans from three banks and he explained that he thought it would be more honest to include both personal and political expenses in his report. He said the checks bounced because of a bank’s mistake in closing an account.
“I’m more experienced this time, so I know better what not to do,” he said, referring in a recent interview to his present campaign.
Allen’s financial report for the period ending May 15 shows receipts of $25,210, expenses of $1,055 and an ending balance of $69.80. He said the apparent discrepancy in balancing the account must be the result of a “snafu by the people who prepare these things,” adding that any errors would be cleared up on his next report.
Aileen Cline, 29, is a native of Ireland who immigrated to this country in 1969 and became a naturalized citizen. Now a political fund-raising consultant, she said she filed for the GOP primary to help fulfill a party pledge to enter at least one Republican in every race in the state.
Cline lives in Canoga Park, but under the U.S. Constitution, federal candidates are not required to reside in the district in which they run for elective office. She said she signed up for the 28th District race on the last day for filing, not knowing that two other GOP candidates would be coming along.
Not Serious Candidate
“I’m not planning to do too much,” said Cline, who has not filed a campaign financial report. “It’s not a very serious candidacy.”
Howard Johnson, a 46-year-old Los Angeles immigration attorney, is unopposed on the Libertarian Party ticket. He said he is against the big-government approach to solving any type of problem, domestic or international.
“I’m strongly opposed to contra aid or U.S. intervention anywhere in the world,” Johnson said. He said he would decriminalize such “victimless crimes” as drug use and treat addiction strictly as a disease.
Most social and economic ills, Johnson said, stem from government interference in people’s private lives. Government training efforts that improve skills in various occupations, for example, cause unemployment when workers who don’t learn the skills are forced out of their jobs, he said.
Johnson said his small-budget campaign will focus on precinct walks and visits to shopping centers. So far, he has reported campaign receipts and expenses of $333.89.