Two Democrats are vying in the June 5 primary for the opportunity to challenge entrenched Republican Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead of Glendale in the November election.
David Bayer, 46, of Burbank and Thomas G. Vournas, 66, of Altadena are both educators and neophyte candidates who want to square off with the well-financed career politician who has represented the GOP-dominated congressional district for 18 years. Moorhead was an attorney and a state assemblyman before he went to Washington in 1972.
The challengers, one of whom will appear on the November ballot along with two minor party candidates, contend that Moorhead has lost touch with his 22nd Congressional District.
The odds of unseating Moorhead, the dean of California's 18-member GOP caucus in Congress, are so heavily weighted against challengers that at times no Democrats have even entered the race. Moorhead typically has won reelection by 70% or more of the voters.
The sprawling district of nearly 300,000 registered voters stretches through north Los Angeles County from portions of the San Gabriel Valley through Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta to Canyon Country, Acton, Agua Dulce and parts of Pasadena, Burbank and Palmdale. More than 55% of the registered voters in the district are Republicans; about 35% are Democrats.
Bayer, director of adult education for the Burbank Unified School District, has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and its local chapters. Bayer said he is conducting a grass-roots campaign before area groups and on campuses to emphasize his advocacy of abortion rights, family planning, a national health program and aggressive measures to clean the air and protect the environment.
Bayer has raised less than $10,000 in his primary campaign, but said if he wins the primary he will try to raise up to $100,000 to challenge Moorhead in November.
Vournas, a native of Los Angeles who has taught in public schools for 40 years, said he has long campaigned for Democratic candidates in local, state and national elections. But he said he decided to run for office himself this year because of his growing frustration "over the serious problems that the U.S. faces that are not being dealt with or even recognized." A self-described liberal, Vournas calls for better education, health care and living conditions for poor children and workers.
Vournas said his campaign "is very limited, with just friends and family doing the labor and pounding the beat." He said he has no special financial or group backing.
Also appearing on the November ballot will be Libertarian William H. Wilson, 49, of Pasadena, a compensation analyst who represented the Libertarian Party as a candidate in 1988 in the 55th Assembly District.
Running under the Peace and Freedom Party banner is Jan B. Tucker, 35, a private investigator and frequent candidate who has run for a variety of offices since 1974, including lieutenant governor in 1978.
Tucker was among a group of demonstrators who protested Moorhead's stance on abortion--which he opposes even in cases of rape and incest--at a rally in front of Glendale High School last year. Tucker is recommended for endorsement by the California chapter of the Political Action Committee of the National Organization for Women.
All of the candidates said their goal is to undermine the apparent solid support behind Moorhead, 68, who has treaded through a career in office with a relatively low profile. Moorhead typically shuns the spotlight and busies himself with technical issues such as patent protection, hydroelectric power and telecommunications.
In his usual genial manner, Moorhead in the past has declined to debate challengers, saying he saw no reason to do so. With more than $700,000 in campaign reserves, Moorhead's supporters once again are predicting an easy reelection victory.