Reelection Fuels Ambition, Frustration for Incumbents

Times Staff Writer

A day after San Fernando Valley-area incumbents were predictably reelected by huge margins, several lawmakers and one challenger were beginning to look toward 1990 and the prospect of seeking higher office or reversing Tuesday’s outcome.

Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette (R-Northridge), expressing intense frustration at the prospect of another 2 years in the chamber’s minority party, said Wednesday that she might run for state Superintendent of Public Instruction or step down in 1990 and seek a state appointment.

State Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), who lost a hard-fought, multimillion-dollar race against veteran Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino (R-Ventura), issued an upbeat statement implying that he may seek a rematch in 1990. Hart’s 18th Senate District extends into the West San Fernando Valley; his 4-year Senate term ends in 1990.

Congressional candidate Jim Salomon, a Beverly Hills Republican, went beyond hinting: He declared that he plans to challenge Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Tarzana) again in 2 years. Although Beilenson won 63% of the vote without spending any money, Salomon called Tuesday’s 23rd District results “an early poll for ’90.”


And Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda), who gained his most lopsided victory Tuesday, has indicated he may seek statewide office in 1990. Katz, who could not be reached Wednesday, may run for lieutenant governor if Democrat Leo McCarthy vacates the office.

In the presidential and U.S. Senate contests and on ballot initiatives, the Valley area tended to follow statewide, countywide and citywide trends. Vice President George Bush edged Michael S. Dukakis, and Republican Sen. Pete Wilson bested Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy among Valley voters, according to complete but unofficial returns.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich overwhelmed former Supervisor Baxter Ward by a 63% to 37% margin nearly identical to their districtwide tally. The Valley was considered a crucial battleground in the bitter contest.

The Valley mirrored statewide returns in backing Proposition 99, which will increase state cigarette taxes to 35 cents a pack, and opposing Proposition 102, which would have ended guarantees of anonymity for people taking AIDS-virus tests. Support for Proposition 103, the Ralph Nader-backed insurance initiative which narrowly passed, was much greater in the Valley than statewide.


Valley voters broke with the majority, however, on Proposition O, which bans oil drilling in Pacific Palisades. The measure passed citywide but lost in the Valley. Paradoxically, Valley voters also opposed the pro-drilling Proposition P, which lost citywide.

In local races, La Follette, 62, was elected to a fifth term in the moderately GOP 38th Assembly District, with 64.5% of the vote. The win was bittersweet, however, because the Democrats apparently cemented their control of the Assembly by gaining three seats statewide.

“I’m not accustomed to having my effectiveness depend so much on other people,” La Follette said, alluding to the Democratic leadership. “I’m very frustrated. My constituents are frustrated many times too because the outcome of so many problems depends on people over whom I have no control, like the most liberal of the Democratic members.”

She said a 1990 statewide campaign would depend, in part, on whether Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig runs for reelection or decides to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. La Follette, a former trustee of the Los Angeles Community College District, would be more likely to jump in if Honig is out of the race.

She also said she may not run for any office in 1990, and hopes that Gov. George Deukmejian would seek and win reelection in 1990 and appoint her to a state post. She said she has a specific position in mind, but “it’s premature for me to talk about it.”

Hart, 45, came within 2,276 votes, or 1%, of defeating Lagomarsino, a 14-year congressional veteran and member of the GOP House leadership whose constituents include President Reagan. The tally was 108,257 to 105,981. Hart, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, raised and spent $1.3 million in what may have been the nation’s costliest 1988 House race. Lagomarsino spent more than $1 million.

Hart aide Joe Caves said Wednesday it was too early to discuss the senator’s plans. But a statement Hart issued seemed to indicate he wants a rematch:

“The election showed that a substantial number of voters want a change of leadership. While the power of incumbency is strong, in the portion of the district represented by Mr. Lagomarsino and myself, Lagomarsino was decisively rejected. . . .


“I am going to continue to work on the issues I addressed: education, protecting the environment and building a stronger future for our nation. I am confident that these very close election results reflect a strong and growing sentiment for positive change in this district.”

Beilenson won a seventh term in the moderately Democratic 23rd Congressional District with a minimum of campaigning. But Salomon, 33, a foreign trade consultant making his first bid for office, insisted he was encouraged by winning 33% of the vote while spending a relatively modest $160,000 to $170,000. Beilenson won 140,189 votes; Salomon, 72,888.

“I always had a long-term perspective,” Salomon said, vowing to renew his fund-raising shortly. “My job is to get another 35,000 votes, and I think I can do that.”

Katz, 38, won 72.5% of the vote in his predominantly Democratic but conservative-leaning 39th District, topping his 1986 record of 60%. He faced a poorly financed opponent but the size of his victory probably will further persuade Republicans that they cannot regain this one-time swing district as long as Katz is in office.

The Valley’s biggest winner, however, was state Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia), who took 74% of the vote against Democrat Andrew Martin of Newhall in the solidly Republican 19th District.

“I knew that unless Jack Kennedy came back to life, probably no good Democrat could beat me here, let alone some poor fellow who didn’t have any good advice or money,” Davis said.

Staff writer Richard Simon contributed to this story.