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California Elections : Anderson Says He’s Too Busy in House to Be a Campaigner

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Times Staff Writer

Ask Democrat Glenn Anderson what he has been up to since the last election--or, for that matter, the last nine elections--and he will probably give a detailed report on what has been happening in and around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles lately--and for the last three or four decades.

Naturally, he does not overlook mentioning that he played a key role in the development of the twin ports during his 18 years in Congress and during 16 earlier years as a California legislator and lieutenant governor.

He cites chapter and verse on the numerous bills he has authored to appropriate federal money for dredging the harbor, expanding port facilities, building roads and freeways to link the ports with inland shippers and most anything else that was needed to make San Pedro Bay the West Coast’s biggest ocean outlet.

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Indeed, Anderson said, Los Angeles this year surpassed New York and New Jersey in customs collected from shippers--about $2 billion of the $10 billion taken in annually at all the nation’s ports.

When the subject turned, in a recent interview, to the June 3 primary election in his 32nd District, Anderson said he is too heavily involved in the “many issues facing the nation and my district” to give much personal attention so far to who is running against him.

He said the House’s surface transportation subcommittee, which he chairs, has to meet two or three times a week to keep up with proposals to develop the nation’s highways and waterways. “I’m the author of the highway bill every time we pass one,” he said.

In between subcommittee meetings, he sits as the second most senior member of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, which he said is working hard on measures to cope with toxic wastes and clean up the country’s drinking water supplies.

Then there are all those foreign policy issues that he tries to keep up with, like Libya (“I strongly supported the President’s action against government-sponsored terrorism”) and Central America (“I couldn’t go along with the Administration on the contra thing”).

Asked again to comment on the election, Anderson said he knows very little, if anything, about the other people on the primary ballot. They happen to be a follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. in the Democratic primary, two youthful political newcomers on the Republican side and a veteran peace activist on the Peace and Freedom ticket.

“Maybe in the fall, when I get a break from my duties in Congress, I’ll be able to get active in the campaign,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’m relying on the many volunteers to do what campaigning is needed.”

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Judging from recent elections in the district, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1, not too much campaigning will be needed to assure the 73-year-old congressman a 10th term in office.

In the 1984 general election, Anderson easily outdistanced an aggressive GOP opponent with 61% of the vote--even while many Democrats were switching to the Republican side of the presidential ballot to help give President Reagan 58% of the votes cast.

And in the election two years earlier, Anderson emerged with 58% of the ballots in a contest with perhaps his toughest GOP contender--Brian Lungren, brother of Republican Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach).

This year’s candidates for the GOP nomination are focusing on the Republican theme of past campaigns--that Anderson is one of Washington’s biggest spenders and just generally too liberal to represent a district that gained conservative strength through reapportionment.

Friendly Territory Lost

Anderson agreed that redistricting caused him some “heartbreaking” losses of friendly territories, but said he is working to get better acquainted with his new constituents and got a very good response from them in the last election.

A series of changes ending in 1984 moved Anderson’s district southeast of his original base in the South Bay--he began his political career 46 years ago as mayor of Hawthorne--taking away such cities as Redondo Beach, Torrance, Gardena, Carson and Lomita.

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The new 32nd covers Harbor City, most of San Pedro (but not Anderson’s home overlooking the bay), Wilmington, most of Long Beach (but not including the ocean side of the harbor), Lakewood, Hawaiian Gardens, a strip of Bellflower and about two-thirds of Downey. As for being too liberal, Anderson said: “I keep in very close touch with the people in my district and I think I’m doing what they want me to do, whether we’re talking about business and labor people or John Q. Public.”

Anderson’s voting record over the years, as measured by various lobbying groups, indicates that he has generally kept pace with the country’s movement toward the political center. For example, Americans for Constitutional Action, a decidedly conservative group, gave him a 5% rating in 1973 but steadily moved him up to 52% in 1984.

Labor Rating Shifts

In the same period, labor groups started him out at 100%, downgraded him to as low as 61% in 1979, then improved his rating to 84% in 1984. The overall ratings of the National Journal, an independent weekly magazine, place him near the middle, with 53% liberal on economic issues and 59% on foreign policy. However, he gets an 80% liberal score on social issues.

As for being a big promoter of public works projects, Anderson makes no apology for the federal dollars he has funneled into the harbor area. Besides, he said, the federal investment will be repaid many times over as the ports continue to expand.

“I instituted a study of the San Pedro Bay area that shows we will triple the cargo coming in and out by the year 2000,” he said. “As a result, we will take in about $80 billion in custom fees over the next 20 years, which is a very good deal, considering that the federal government is investing only $600 million to $700 million for improvements needed to handle the load.

“It gets to be an even better investment when you take into account all the new business and jobs that will accompany that growth.”

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Anderson’s campaign finance report for the period ending March 31 shows new receipts of $95,100, which brought his cash balance to $94,796 after deducting expenses and adding leftover donations. He spent more than $400,000 on each of the last two general elections.

Challenger Is 70

Anderson’s opponent in the Democratic primary, 70-year-old Margaret Thrasher, said she still works long hours on the interior decorating business that she has operated for 26 years in Long Beach.

“There’s always a lot going on in my life, but I thought I might be able to do something to help straighten out this country,” she said in explaining her decision to run for Anderson’s post.

Thrasher said she has long been a staunch Democrat, but an exposure to LaRouche’s political ideas a couple of years ago convinced her that the party--and the country--are heading in the wrong direction.

“We need someone strong like LaRouche to get us back on the right course,” she said. “I’ve been to four of his conventions and heard him talk.”

In Office Too Long

Veteran politicians like Anderson will never get the job done, she said, “because they have been in office for so long that they’ve lost contact with the people they’re supposed to be representing and they don’t hear what we’re saying.”

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If they did hear, they would get down to serious business and do something to “bring dope under control and clear up this AIDS epidemic,” Thrasher said.

Thrasher said she is helping circulate a LaRouche-sponsored petition that calls for designating acquired immune deficiency syndrome as a reportable disease. Under that classification, she said, AIDS victims could be quarantined if necessary to protect the public health.

Thrasher had not filed a campaign finance report as of the reporting period ending March 31. She indicated that she is paying for her campaign herself and expects to keep expenses to a minimum.

GOP Candidates

On the Republican side of the primary, two young business professionals are competing for a chance to take on Anderson in the November general election. Both said they see a conservative, pro-Reagan tide in the district that could sweep through the congressional race this time around.

Philip D. Dean, 28, of Long Beach, works for a consulting firm that specializes in finding markets for high-technology products. He expressed concern about protectionist pressures, which he said could adversely affect international shipping in the Long Beach and Los Angeles harbors.

He said he would also like to see more support in Congress for Reagan’s efforts to “fight terrorism and communist expansion.”

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“The Sandinistas have been allowed to solidify a Marxist-Leninist state in Nicaragua,” Dean said, “and at every turn, Anderson has opposed the President’s efforts to deal with that problem.”

Dean said he agreed with Reagan’s position that the current federal budget deficit is not caused primarily by defense outlays, but rather by indiscriminate federal spending on a host of domestic projects.

Priorities Needed

“If we spend money on everything that comes along, we will have trouble with the budget,” Dean said. “We need to prioritize so that spending is limited to the really essential public services. Anderson is not capable of exerting that kind of discipline on federal spending.”

Dean, who had not filed a campaign finance report as of March 31, said he is focusing his effort in the primary on precinct walking and speeches at community and professional meetings.

The second GOP candidate, Joyce M. Robertson, 26, is a Xerox Corp. marketing executive who lives in Manhattan Beach. (Under the Constitution, federal candidates are not required to reside in the district they seek to represent.) She contends that Anderson does not represent many district voters who support Reagan’s policies.

“There is an important constituency out there that is not aware of Anderson’s voting record on big spending projects,” Robertson said. “As a congressman, he has done more than his share to increase the burden on taxpayers and build up the federal deficit.”

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Active Republican

Robertson, a native of the Downey area, said that while this is her first try at public office, she has been active for a number of years in the campaigns of other Republicans.

The candidate, who had not filed a financial report as of March 31, said she has been busy walking precincts and telephoning potential supporters.

John S. Donohue, 61, a peace activist and retired refinery worker in Long Beach, is unopposed on the Peace and Freedom ticket. An “anti-nuclear person from way back,” he is making his seventh bid for a congressional seat because, he said, “I want to give people an alternative to a political system that has failed to deal with the great issues of peace and disarmament.”

Donohue’s political views--”in a very general way, you could label me as a creative anarchist”--are laced with broad philosophical observations. The capitalist system should be done away with, he says, because the idea of owning anything runs counter to the human condition.

“We are here for only a short time and we can’t take anything with us when we go,” he said.

While we’re here, he said, we should, among other things, pay more attention to what chemical polluters and nuclear plants are doing to make the earth incompatible with human existence.

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“I don’t have any solutions; I’m just looking at problems,” Donohue said. The biggest of the problems, he said, is to “find a way to deal with the paradox of existence.”

Donohue had not filed a campaign finance report for the period ending March 31.

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