Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) is quietly working behind the scenes to have the home turf of two-time GOP challenger Sang Korman cut out of his congressional district when its boundaries are redrawn, sources said.
Gallegly has asked that the city of Calabasas, where Korman lives, be dropped from his 21st Congressional District during the once-a-decade remapping of California's legislative districts, Republican sources said. The process has been the subject of intense, closed-door negotiations this month between Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the state Legislature.
Korman, a wealthy Korean-American businessman, lost GOP primary elections to Gallegly in 1988 and 1990. Forcing Korman outside the redrawn district could make him vulnerable to "carpetbagger" charges if he makes good on his vow to run against Gallegly a third time next year.
"Gallegly is trying to get rid of Calabasas because of Korman," said a Republican source familiar with the reapportionment negotiations. "He wants to keep his district essentially the same, with the exception of Calabasas."
Gallegly denied that he is trying to jettison Calabasas, saying he would "much rather run against Sang than any number of candidates."
Gallegly easily captured the GOP nomination in 1988 and 1990, although Korman more than doubled his vote percentage last year. Korman spent nearly $566,000 of his own money on the two races, according to federal election reports.
"I have not been trying to get anything removed from my district," Gallegly said. He added that as a conservative Republican he has little influence over reapportionment efforts that are being led by Democrats in the Legislature and Congress.
Korman said he was "amazed and astonished" by reports that Gallegly is trying to get rid of Calabasas. He called the effort a "very cheap, dirty, mean political trick" to try to eliminate him as a challenger.
"Instead of working to solve problems of health care or other important issues such as improving public education, . . . we find his only concern is his own political survival," Korman said.
Under federal election law, members of Congress are not required to be residents of the districts they represent. But Korman said that if Calabasas is removed from the new 21st District, he will move to a city within it.
"Cutting out Calabasas won't stop me from running," he said.
State legislators continued to bargain Friday in an effort to hammer out a new reapportionment plan this weekend and get it to Gov. Pete Wilson.
But a Wilson veto or legal challenges by minority groups under the federal Voting Rights Act could send the plan into the courts for a final decision.
In addition to several remap plans proposed by state legislators, congressional Democrats have advanced three separate plans of their own. Under them, Gallegly's district would vary considerably. The district now covers portions of northern and western Los Angeles County and southern Ventura County.
Under one plan, the vast majority of residents would be in Ventura County; under another, they would be in Los Angeles County.
Under a third plan, the new district would include portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but stretch also into Kern County.
It remained unclear Friday if any or all of Calabasas would remain in the district under any of the plans.
Gallegly, a former mayor of Simi Valley, won his seat in 1986 following an upset victory in the GOP primary over Tony Hope, who Gallegly accused of being a carpetbagger from Washington D.C.
Hope, an attorney and son of entertainer Bob Hope, moved to Northridge shortly before the election after living in Washington for 10 years, prompting Gallegly's charge.
Jack Cheevers reported from Chatsworth and Alan C. Miller reported from Washington.
Gallegly's Purported Strategy Rep. Elton Gallegly reportedly wants to have the Calabasas area, home of his two-time challenger Sang Korman, removed from his 21st Congressional District.