Anderson May Lose His Turf in Redistricting


The last nine months won't be remembered as Glenn M. Anderson's political salad days.

Last December, the 78-year-old Democrat became only the third member of Congress in 15 years to be stripped of a committee chairmanship. This week, he suffered a second indignity: State Democratic leaders proposed carving up his harbor-area political turf to make way for a Republican-leaning congressional district.

That, political observers believe, would make it extremely tough--if not impossible--for Anderson to win a 13th term in 1992. And the apparent willingness to sacrifice Anderson is one of the more striking provisions in Democrat-drafted plans for reapportionment, the redrawing of political boundaries that the state Legislature undertakes each decade to account for population shifts.

Whether the Democratic plans take effect remains in doubt. They may be vetoed by Gov. Pete Wilson and could face court challenges by minority groups. But the fact that the blueprints call for fragmenting Anderson's turf speaks volumes about the sagging price of his political stock.

Many analysts believe the proposal was presaged by Anderson's removal last year as head of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee amid charges that his abilities have slipped dramatically due to old age.

"His removal was the first salvo," said Leroy Hardy, a political science professor at Cal State Long Beach and a former Democratic reapportionment consultant. The current reapportionment plan, if it took effect, would spell "the end of his political career," Hardy said.

Said a Democratic strategist from Long Beach who declined to be named: "The feeling among Democrats is that (Anderson) is of no value seniority-wise because he was stripped of his chairmanship. He's the first one they're going to sacrifice. If this plan goes through, he's finished."

The proposal to slice up Anderson's district was contained in each of two reapportionment plans released this week by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), who is coordinating the congressional Democrats' redistricting efforts.

The result would be that some predominantly Democratic portions of Anderson's turf would be absorbed by the congressional district represented by Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton). That would leave a new Republican-leaning district that would include part of Long Beach and straddle Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Democrats acknowledged their redistricting plans could cause Anderson to be "seriously marginalized." They portrayed the proposed change as regrettable but necessary, saying it was made in part as a gesture to Republicans, who want a GOP district created in the Long Beach area.

"This is a painful decision," Berman said. "This is one of our colleagues, but in the context of doing our best to avoid 10 more years of litigation . . . (we thought) this was a gesture we could make."

Since first winning election to Congress in 1968, Anderson, a former lieutenant governor of California, has become known for steering numerous federal port, highway and rail projects to the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.

Evan Braude, a Long Beach city councilman who is Anderson's stepson, protested that the Democratic redistricting plan would curtail these efforts. He also suggested that the proposal might have stemmed from his stepfather's refusal to pay a $25,000 consulting fee solicited from each of California's Democratic congressional representatives for the drafting of their reapportionment proposals. The money went to BAD Campaigns, a Beverly Hills political consulting firm whose principals are Michael Berman--Howard Berman's brother--and Carl D'Agostino.

"Part of the problem is (Anderson) refused . . . to give the $25,000 to (Michael) Berman," said Braude, who many Democrats say was being groomed to inherit his stepfather's district. "(Anderson) didn't like their superior attitude. It was sort of like, 'Hey, we know what to do. If you want to come along, you'd better get on board.' "

Democrats involved in drafting the congressional reapportionment plans denied such assertions. Said Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Sacramento): "It has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Anderson's willingness to participate with his colleagues or not."

For his part, Anderson kept a low profile this week. Attempts to arrange a telephone interview with the congressman failed. In a statement released by his wife, Lee Anderson, the congressman was quoted as saying: ". . . with the entire issue of reapportionment and new congressional district lines still so nebulous, we all must wait and see."

The statement, however, appeared to hint that even if Anderson's district is carved up, he still might run for reelection. "In my next campaign I will once again wage a race that will reach all of the voters in my district regardless of party orientation," he was quoted as saying.

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