State Senate candidate Joel H. Lubin knew the odds weren't in his favor.
Known as somewhat of a free spirit in Democratic Party circles, he figured he would have trouble getting people to take his candidacy seriously in the 27th District. His opponent in the Democratic primary would probably have broader appeal in the district, which includes Downey, Lakewood and Long Beach. And even if he won the primary, Lubin knew, he would face a respected Republican incumbent, Sen. Robert G. Beverly, who could outspend him by at least 100 to 1.
But things are getting ridiculous, Lubin says. Last week--two weeks before the primary and in the heat of the campaign--he was called for jury duty. Instead of calling the court, Lubin decided to go in person and request a delay until after the June 2 primary.
"They said, 'Since you're here, why don't you sign up today and go through orientation so you get credit for today?' " Lubin recalled. He obliged, finished orientation and promptly found himself assigned to a case. When he tried to get out of it, explaining that he wanted to wait until after the primary, he said court officials told him it was too late because he had already signed up. To make matters worse, court officials then assigned him to a pool of jurors for a case that may last until August.
"I could be on jury duty for life," Lubin said, laughing. "My first thought was, 'What am I going to do?' Then I thought what I should do is get a letter out to Finander (Brian Finander, Lubin's opponent in the primary) and ask him to stop campaigning."
Lubin is taking things in stride. There is still a chance he could be disqualified from the jury panel. If he's not, he said, he will just work from home at night, calling supporters, hoping to get out the vote.
Absentee trouble--Inglewood school board member Lois Hill-Hale, who is running a write-in campaign in the state Senate district that includes Lynwood and Paramount, said the Los Angeles county registrar-recorder's office has made a mistake that jeopardizes her campaign.
Hill-Hale said that thousands of absentee voters in the 25th Senate District are being denied their right to vote because the registrar's office forgot to include the gray envelope upon which voters can write in the name of a candidate.
"I want this issue rectified now, or I will file a lawsuit and ask for the 25th Senate race to be declared null," Hill-Hale said in a statement last week.
However, Marcia Ventura, a spokeswoman for the county registrar's office, said Hill-Hale's claim that hundreds of envelopes are missing is "completely inaccurate. We don't see a problem. We have mailed out 198,000 absentee ballots and have not heard from anyone else of a problem with missing envelopes."
Ventura said that the office checks twice to make sure the absentee ballot packets are complete before mailing them out. In addition, she said, a county official was sent to the Hill-Hale headquarters, where the candidate said she had gathered "hundreds" of incomplete ballot packets. The official found that only one envelope was missing, Ventura said.
Hill-Hale could not be reached for further comment, but her campaign manager, Lorna Tate, said that Hill-Hale has continued to receive phone calls from voters who cannot find their gray envelopes.
Mailer flap--In the continuing saga over questionable campaign mailers, Councilman Tom Clark complained this week that a flyer by his opponent, Jerry Westlund, is "a total fabrication."
In his mailer, Westlund accused Clark of being "on the East Coast on another city-paid junket" during the recent riots. Clark said that he left town the morning of April 30, after police assured him that all was quiet in Long Beach, but the trip was to Fresno for a conference of the California League of Cities Board of Directors. "The next morning, I came back as quickly as I could," Clark said.
Tim Carey, a spokesman for Westlund's campaign, said the information that Clark was in Washington came from City Hall, but that the destination is moot. "If he was actually in Fresno, he was still out of town. And that was the point," Carey said.
The mailer also accuses Clark of missing an important vote during a meeting of the Public Employees' Retirement System Board of Administration. Clark said the allegation that he "left the room" prior to a vote regarding retirement funds could not be further from the truth.
Clark said he was present during discussions of a legislative measure that removed pension funds from the Public Employees' Retirement System to finance state and local governments and public schools. Clark voted with the majority to oppose the measure, according to a letter by Dale M. Hanson, PERS executive officer.
Carey defended the charge, insisting that someone who was present during the vote told Westlund's campaign that Clark walked out prior to the vote.
Meanwhile, Carey criticized a Clark mailer that puts Westlund in the camp proposing to abolish the Long Beach Police Department. "His position is (that) we need to keep the Long Beach Police Department," Carey said.
In the primary campaign, Westlund took no official position on the issue of replacing local officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but he was viewed by many as pro-sheriff. "He has repeatedly dodged the issue. He's never supported the Long Beach Police Department before," Clark said.