Giant freighters and cruise ships glide through the Glenn M. Anderson Ship Channel to reach their berths in the Port of Los Angeles.
In Long Beach, a bronze plaque marks the dedication of the city’s popular Transportation Mall to Congressman Anderson.
A little farther inland, construction continues on what is popularly known as the Century Freeway. But now, it has been officially named the Glenn M. Anderson Freeway.
Anderson receives honors frequently these days. They are as much an expression of gratitude for his ability to steer big federal projects to his district as they are in recognition of his 20 years in the House. And this year, he became chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, which decides how to distribute funds for buildings, roads and other projects throughout the country.
At 75, the Harbor City Democrat is well past the age when many people consider retirement. He underwent heart surgery about three months ago. But he insists that he is not about to slow down.
“My doctors tell me I’m going to live . . . another 30 years,” Anderson said. “I’m going to be here. Somebody has to be here.”
Anderson is running for an 11th term. He trumpets his record in bringing federal money into job-creating port and transportation projects as he faces three challengers for reelection in the 32nd District, which includes parts of Long Beach, Lakewood and Downey, and San Pedro, Lomita and Hawaiian Gardens.
He has traditionally had few reelection worries. He faced his closest race when he was first elected in 1968, receiving a scant 51% of the vote. Since then, he has never garnered less than the 58% he received in 1982 against Brian Lungren, brother of Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Long Beach), after redistricting.
In the election two years ago, Anderson triumphed with 69% of the vote.
This year, his Republican challenger is Sanford Kahn, a sales engineer for the Southern California Gas Co. who has not previously run for elective office.
Kahn, 44, does not take issue with Anderson’s accomplishments in bringing federal projects to the district. Rather, he says the incumbent is no longer representative of the district.
“He votes for tax increases,” said Kahn, a Long Beach resident. He also criticized Anderson as being one of the few members of his own party to oppose a U.S.-Canada trade pact. “Philosophically, Glenn and I are 180 degrees apart,” he added.
Anderson campaign spokesman Hal Garvin said that over the last 20 years, the congressman has approved both tax hikes and cuts but that he is a “very thrifty person” and “has consistently been a supporter of free trade.”
Kahn said that given his age and years in office, Anderson should consider stepping aside. “Anderson isn’t being aggressive. You’re not just a representative of the people. You’re the employee of the people. You’re not the employer,” he said.
Garvin said Anderson has not only been aggressive, but has also based his vote on the views of his constituents, rather than his own opinions.
Kahn, who is making the economy his chief issue, said he would limit government spending instead of raising taxes. He would favor giving taxpayers an income tax deduction on some interest and dividend income to spur savings and investment.
The congressional seat is also being sought by Libertarian Party candidate Marc F. Denny, 44, a Hermosa Beach business consultant and real estate investor, and Vikki Murdock of Lakewood, who lists her occupation as “worker/student.” Denny is calling for cuts in government spending and said he wants to present a third-party alternative. Murdock could not be reached for comment.
So far, Anderson has waged a low-key campaign. He has made a round of speaking engagements before civic groups, opened campaign headquarters in Long Beach and bought some billboard space.
Anderson said he expects to spend about $400,000 in the race, about the same as two years ago. Campaign records show that from January to June, he spent $77,261 in the race and ended the period with a war chest of $257,967 for the general election.
Anderson has little difficulty raising campaign funds. He has received strong support from local maritime-related companies and unions, as well as political action committee money from construction and transportation-related companies and groups.
Among the larger contributors, the United Parcel Service PAC gave $7,000 and the Federal Express PAC gave $13,135 in the last fiscal year.
Walks 5 Miles Daily
Despite undergoing quadruple-bypass surgery in July, Anderson said he is feeling fine. “I can run, I can play tennis,” he said. “I walk 5 miles a day.”
It also has not slowed his work pace, he said. He made the transcontinental jaunt between his district and the capital 43 times last year. Congressional spending records show that he scrupulously flies coach even if it means taking flights that stop along the way.
A former mayor of Hawthorne, assemblyman and lieutenant governor, Anderson is described by his spokesman as a moderate. Americans for Democratic Action rated him as voting liberal 72% of the time on 25 key votes in 1987. He received a 29% rating on votes concerning pro-business legislation last year from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But he has been a strong defender of business interests in his district.
In a move to help oil and maritime interests in his district, Anderson co-sponsored legislation last April that would open up 1.5 million acres of the coastal plain of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s North Slope to oil and gas development.
Sierra Club Opposed
But the legislation was a direct affront to the Sierra Club, which considers the protection of the wildlife refuge--"America’s greatest and purest wilderness"--as one of its two top legislative priorities, said Tim Mahoney, Washington representative for the Sierra Club and chairman of the Alaska Coalition.
He said Anderson is viewed in Washington as one of the most pro-business members among Democrats in the California delegation.
“The Arctic refuge means money for big business,” Mahoney said. “We’re not surprised (Anderson) took that point of view. It’s pretty consistent.”
Spokesman Garvin said Anderson opposes oil drilling off the California coast because it is “unique and should be protected from potential oil spills. In Alaska, you have a completely different thing” where there are large quantities of oil that can be extracted with minimal impact on the environment.
Anderson, in an interview, inevitably dwells on his favorite subjects: how much federal money he has delivered for port development, the new federal building in Long Beach, the Century--or rather, the Anderson--Freeway.
Buildings Create Jobs
Although he boasts of such projects, he is quick to reject any suggestion that he has concentrated on getting federal money into pet projects in his own district at the expense of national interests. He said the country has to maintain its public buildings, highways and ports.
“Infrastructure is something I’m hearing people talking more and more about. The country has got to have more development, and (public works projects) pay for themselves. Whenever they build something, it makes money for the community.”
One of Anderson’s favorite examples is the new federal building under construction in downtown Long Beach. He said he discovered that the General Services Administration was planning to spend $70 million over 30 years to rent office space in the South Bay for branch offices of federal agencies.
“I said at the time, ‘That sounds to me like we could build a building for less than that,’ ” he said. After GSA officials checked the figures, they found that a new building would cost $46 million, while allowing agencies to be consolidated into a single building, with extra space as well.
“When we get done with the building, we will have more space and (will) have saved $24 million,” he said. “There are things we try to do all over the country.”
Times Staff Writer Jeffrey L. Rabin contributed to this story.