Reapportionment Shuffles the Political Deck : Elections: Incumbents scramble for safe seats under proposed new districts. Westside officeholders are especially affected.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It is like a game of musical chairs.

And for scores of Los Angeles politicians, the music just stopped. The decennial redrawing of boundaries for Congress and the state Legislature has touched off a dash for safe seats.

"I don't believe that in modern political history we've had the upheaval that this reapportionment is causing," said veteran campaign consultant Joe Cerrell.

Some of the most powerful elected officials in the state, including Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), find themselves without a district to run in, stuck in a district with another incumbent or assigned communities in which they stand little chance of electoral success.

On the Westside, there were four safe, Democratic congressional districts, but now there is one--forcing three incumbents to retire, run for another office or shift their political base to a nearby district. Three Assembly seats on the Westside were reduced to two--and two state Senate districts have collapsed into one.

At the same time, reapportionment has carved out some new districts where there are no incumbents--such as the 24th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley and the 36th Congressional District along the South Bay coast.

In Los Angeles, such realignment of legislative boundaries is likely to cause some old allies to turn on one another and to abandon informal nonaggression pacts that have kept incumbents safe, according to consultants and elected officials.

"There will be a temporary breakdown in alliances," said John Emerson, executive assistant city attorney in Los Angeles and a Democratic strategist.

"It's a Darwinian process," said Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), who is looking at races for the 41st Assembly District, 23rd state Senate District and 29th Congressional District. "It's unfortunate, but no secret, that everyone is looking at everyone else's seat. . . . I don't know what else we can do but get used to it."

Under district lines awaiting final adoption by the state Supreme Court, incumbents such as Reps. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), state Sens. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) and Roberti could face off in contested primary races, after years of peacefully coexisting in neighboring districts.

The impact of state redistricting could extend to many local offices as well.

It could have a major impact on the makeup of the Los Angeles City Council and reshape the next mayoral race, consultants and politicians say.

City Council members Zev Yaroslavsky, Joy Picus and Joan Milke Flores have been mentioned as possible mayoral candidates but are considering contests for Congress.

If any of them go to Congress, their council seats probably will be sought by state legislators from Los Angeles who face voter-imposed limits on their terms in Sacramento, consultants said.

"It sets up an endless domino effect," said Steve Afriat, lobbyist and former campaign manager. "The numbers of scenarios are almost limitless. It's impossible for anyone to come up with their ducks in a row."

State lawmakers are required to redraw legislative districts once every 10 years, to account for shifts in population revealed by the U.S. census.

This year, however, the Legislature and Gov. Pete Wilson were unable to agree on a plan, and the task was turned over to the state Supreme Court, which appointed a panel of "special masters"--a group of three retired judges--to draw the new lines.

The panel's objective was to create districts with equal populations, while attempting to keep intact communities of interest, such as concentrations of minority voters.

The plan was released on Dec. 2, but faces hearings and potential legal challenges. The court is expected to complete its work this month. If the plan is adopted, the lines will be used in next year's legislative races.

If the boundary changes survive the legal challenges and any override attempt by the Legislature, political representation will be dramatically shifted.

Although redistricting has captivated talk in political circles, it is drawing scant attention from the myriad communities that will be affected.

"Citizens want basic services, regardless of where lines are drawn," said Bob Gay, a former candidate for Los Angeles City Council and an aide to Councilman Nate Holden.

"It doesn't mean anything, except in terms of (political) careers," said Hayden. "There's nothing predictable about change in peoples' lives because of this."

One change for politicians may be a change of address as they search for friendly districts.

"I may be the only one going into this race without a moving van," quipped Flores. The councilwoman was referring to the 36th Congressional District that runs up the coast from her base in San Pedro, through the Palos Verdes Peninsula into the South Bay cities. As an open district, it is attracting a lot of attention, including a bid by Maureen Reagan, daughter of the former President. A Reagan campaign aide said she will have to move into the district to run.

The lure of such open seats can be irresistible to ambitious politicians who have been held back in recent years by the logjam of incumbents. And Congress is particularly appealing for state legislators who face term limits in Sacramento.

In the new 24th Congressional District in the west San Fernando Valley and southern Ventura County, at least half a dozen Democratic officeholders are said to be weighing their chances, even though the district is not considered a safe Democratic seat.

Almost as many Republicans, mostly from the Ventura part of the district, such as Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), are considering bids for that seat.

While some politicians are left without options, others are finding it hard to choose among them.

One of the more extreme cases is Picus.

The veteran Los Angeles councilwoman is considering running in the new 24th Congressional District. She is also considering runs for county supervisor, mayor of Los Angeles, and reelection to her council seat.

Congress, she said, "is just the first streetcar to come along, so I'm jumping on." Picus said she is proceeding "full speed ahead" with plans to run in the district, but is reserving the right to pull out if Beilenson enters that race.

Beilenson was redistricted into the same congressional seat as Waxman. While Beilenson said he prefers to stay in that district, he has not made up his mind about where he will run.

Developments in key races could clarify the picture:

* Filing for a special election to fill the unexpired term of former state Sen. Alan Robbins, who resigned last month amid a corruption scandal.

Roberti and Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Los Angeles) have said they are considering running for Robbins' 20th Senate District seat.

If Friedman runs, Assemblyman Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles), whose district was combined with Friedman's, said he would likely move west and run in the new 42nd District. The filing deadline for the special Senate election is Feb. 24.

* A decision by Beilenson to run against Waxman in the Westside district or in the new, more competitive district in the west San Fernando Valley.

Council members Picus and Yaroslavsky said they will not oppose Beilenson in the Valley. A decision by Beilenson will also be closely watched by Margolin and Roberti as well as Waxman. Filing deadlines for Congress and the state Legislature are Feb. 5.

Politicians also are waiting to see who declares candidacy for the new congressional seat centered in downtown Los Angeles. Assembly member Lucille Roybal-Allard has said she wants to run for the seat and join her father, Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles) in the House of Representatives and become the first father-daughter duo in the history of Congress. State Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) has also said he is considering a bid in that congressional district, along with other options.

Eastside politicians are having an easier time than those on the Westside in this redistricting. Their growing communities picked up one additional congressional district, one state Senate district and two Assembly districts.

Roybal-Allard and Assemblyman Xavier Becerra (D-Monterey Park) are both eyeing the new Senate seat that extends from Alhambra to Azusa in the San Gabriel Valley.

Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), whose home is in the same Assembly district as Roybal-Allard and Becerra, said he will move into the new 45th Assembly District in downtown Los Angeles.

Most of the black legislators in South and Central Los Angeles also retained safe seats. The panel of special masters was required to consider them under terms of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits diluting the voting strength of minority communities.

Also, a seat will open up because Sen. Bill Greene (D-Los Angeles) is not seeking reelection. If Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) wins her bid for a county supervisor seat, her district would also open up.

"Everyone's on pins and needles waiting for (veteran lawmakers) to make their moves," said Karin Caves, chief of staff to Friedman. "Then they'll all get moving."

PROPOSED REDISTRICTING IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

New Assembly and Senate and Congressional districts prepared for the state Supreme Court by a panel of retired judges portend big changes for Los Angeles County if adopted by the court after a Jan. 13 hearing.

Because the number of seats in the Legislature remains the same, Los Angeles County, which grew slower than other areas, will lose representation in both houses of the Legislature.

In Los Angeles, the biggest impact of the proposed Congressional districts will be on the westside.

Here are some details: THE IMPACT

In the Assembly:

** Three West Los Angeles districts that historically have elected Anglo Democrats would be collapsed into two--the new 41st and 42nd.

** A fourth district centered just west of downtown Los Angeles--the 45th--would be reconfigured to give Latino voters a chance to elect a representative of their choice.

** In south-central Los Angeles and the South Bay, three incumbent Democrats--Willard Murray, Richard E. Floyd and Dave Elder--may be forced to run for two seats--the 52nd and 55th.

** The neighboring 53rd, which would produce a competitive race between a Democrat and Republican, has no incumbent.

In the Senate:

** Most of the territory that had spanned two Westside Senate districts would be in just one--the new 23rd, leaving Democratic Senate Leader David Roberti with the choice of running against one of two fellow incumbents--Democrat Herschel Rosenthal or Republican Newton Russell.

** Roberti also could run for a seat vacated by former Sen. Alan Robbins, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

** The plan would create one open seat in central Los Angeles likely to go to a Latino. Depending on where incumbents decide to run, the open Senate seat could be the 22nd or the 24th. The Congressional districts:

** The most dramatic impact would be on Los Angeles'e westside, where pieces of four Democratic-leaning districts would be grouped into one, the new 29th. Incumbent Democrats Henry Waxman and Anthony Beilenson both live in the district. Rep. Mel Levine is running for the U.S. Senate and Rep. Howard Berman will probably shift his base north and run in the new 26th district.

** The new boundaries would leave one West San Fernando Valley seat--the 24th--with no incumbent. That already has prompted a scramble among legislators and local officials considering a run for Congress.

** The plan also would create a new Latino-oriented seat in central Los Angeles that would have no incumbent. Depending on where incumbents decide to run, the open Congressional seat could be the 33rd.

Assembly District 38 extends west into Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks. Senate District 17 extends north and east to the Nevada border, including portions of Kern and San Bernardino counties and all of Inyo County. Assembly District 61 is mostly in southwestern San Bernardino County. Senate District 32 is mostly in southwestern San Bernardino County. Congressional District 24 extends into Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks. Congressional District 39 extends into Orange County, including Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia and Rossmoor. Congressional District 41 extends into San Bernardino County, including Chino, Montclair, Ontario and Upland, and Orange County, including Yorba Linda and part of Placentia, Anaheim and Brea. Sources: Race and ethnicity; California Supreme Court Special Masters for Reapportionment, Party registration: California Assembly, District boundaries: Strategic Mapping Inc. Demographics*

Dist.No. Dem. Rep. Anglo Latino Black Asian Assem.36 34% 56% 75% 16% 5% 4% Sen. 17 36% 53% 75% 16% 5% 3% Assem.38 40% 50% 72% 16% 3% 9% Sen.19 40% 49% 66% 24% 3% 7% Assem.39 61% 30% 25% 62% 7% 7% Assem.40 54% 35% 58% 30% 4% 8% Sen.20 57% 33% 42% 56% 5% 7% Assem.43 42% 47% 61% 25% 2% 12% Assem.44 44% 46% 58% 19% 12% 11% Sen.21 43% 47% 59% 22% 7% 11% Assem.45 61% 25% 16% 63% 2% 18% Assem.46 65% 23% 9% 70% 7% 14% Sen.22 63% 24% 12% 67% 5% 16% Assem.41 49% 40% 82% 10% 2% 6% Assem.42 59% 29% 79% 10% 3% 7% Sen.23 54% 35% 80% 10% 3% 7% Assem.49 60% 28% 15% 55% 1% 28% Assem.57 56% 33% 22% 64% 3% 12% Sen.24 58% 31% 18% 59% 2% 20% Assem.51 69% 22% 22% 36% 36% 7% Assem.52 80% 12% 10% 48% 36% 7% Sen.25 74% 17% 16% 42% 36% 7% Assem.47 75% 16% 30% 23% 40% 8% Assem.48 88% 6% 2% 52% 46% 2% Sen.26 80% 12% 16% 37% 43% 5% Assem.54 43% 46% 66% 19% 6% 9% Assem.56 49% 42% 56% 22% 7% 15% Sen.27 46% 44% 61% 20% 6% 12% Assem.53 43% 44% 74% 13% 3% 10% Assem.55 69% 21% 19% 41% 23% 17% Sen.28 53% 36% 47% 27% 13% 14% Assem.59 39% 51% 64% 21% 6% 9% Assem.60 43% 47% 47% 30% 6% 17% Sen.29 41% 49% 56% 26% 6% 13% Assem.50 67% 23% 8% 89% 2% 1% Assem.58 64% 28% 28% 62% 2% 7% Sen.30 65% 27% 18% 75% 2% 4%

Demographics*

Dist. No. Dem. Rep. Anglo Latino Black Asian Cong. 24 45% 45% 78% 13% 2% 6% Cong. 25 37% 53% 72% 16% 4% 6% Cong. 26 58% 31% 34% 53% 6% 7% Cong. 27 42% 48% 61% 21% 8% 10% Cong. 28 41% 49% 57% 24% 6% 13% Cong. 29 57% 31% 76% 13% 3% 7% Cong. 30 61% 26% 15% 61% 4% 20% Cong. 31 59% 30% 17% 59% 2% 22% Cong. 32 76% 15% 24% 30% 40% 7% Cong. 33 66% 23% 8% 84% 4% 4% Cong. 34 61% 30% 27% 62% 2% 9% Cong. 35 80% 13% 10% 43% 43% 6% Cong. 36 42% 46% 69% 15% 3% 12% Cong. 37 77% 14% 12% 45% 34% 10% Cong. 38 49% 42% 58% 26% 8% 9% Cong. 39 39% 51% 61% 23% 3% 13% Cong. 41 40% 50% 52% 31% 7% 10%

* Some percentages may add up to more than 100% because the census may also count some Latinos in racial categories.

Data compiled by RICHARD O'REILLY, Director of Computer Analysis for The Times.

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