STATE ASSEMBLY / NORTHERN CALIFORNIA : Lack of Incumbents Draws Large Field of Candidates


A Marilyn Monroe impersonator is adding a little spice to a Northern California Assembly district primary contest by campaigning in a gold lame dress and long white gloves.

But Libertarian Vicki Lynn Vallis of Truckee, 35, would be a long-shot candidate in the fall in the 3rd District, which includes the mountain counties of Modoc, Lassen and Sierra. Voter registration is 43% Democratic and 43% Republican.

The open seat, vacated by retiring Assemblyman Chris Chandler (R-Yuba City), is one of several hotly contested races in Northern California that have attracted large numbers of candidates.

Seven Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination. Businessman Bernie Richter of Chico, a video store owner who used to be a Butte County supervisor, is expected to have the most campaign funds to spend in the final hectic days before June 2.

Democratic farmer-attorney Lon Hatamiya of Marysville is favored to win his party's primary nomination. He took almost 47% of the vote when he opposed Chandler in 1990. If Hatamiya wins the primary, he may be one of several candidates statewide who are seeking to be the first Asian-Americans elected to the Assembly in 14 years.

There are five other contested Northern California Assembly races, all but one with no incumbent:

District 6

Marin, Sonoma counties

52% Democrat, 32% Republican

This heavily Democratic district nevertheless has elected Republican Assemblyman William F. Filante of Greenbrae seven times in a row, but Filante is leaving to run for Congress.

His move makes this a key race for Republicans, but Democrats have coveted this seat for many years. A huge amount of campaign money is expected to be spent here by both sides in the fall.

Four Democrats and two Republicans are running in the primary. Democratic businesswoman Vivien Bronshvag got 43% of the vote and spent a lot of her own money against Filante last time out. Harry J. Moore is a Novato City Council member.

The GOP candidates are Marin County Supervisor Al Aramburu and businessman Duane Hughes.

District 7

Napa and Sonoma counties,

city of Vallejo

54% Democrat, 34% Republican

Incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Bev Hansen of Santa Rosa took a look at revised district lines and decided to retire instead of running for reelection in a district where reapportionment took away Republican voters and added Democrats.

Two leading Democratic candidates are former Vallejo Mayor Terry Curtola and Sonoma Vice Mayor Valerie Brown. But they have split their legislative support. Curtola is backed by Assembly majority leader Thomas M. Hannigan (D-Fairfield). Brown is backed by Senate majority leader Barry Keene (D-Ukiah) and Sen. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena).

Former Sonoma County Supervisor Janet Nicholas, a gubernatorial appointee to the state Board of Prison Terms, is unopposed in the GOP primary.

District 10

Southern Sacramento County,

northern San Joaquin County,

city of Lodi

46% Democrat, 43% Republican

This is basically a new district that is predominantly white and Republican-leaning. The open district is up for grabs, with four Democrats and five Republicans competing.

The Democratic primary field includes Kay Albiani, chairwoman of the Elk Grove School Board and president of California Elected Women, and Ed Smeloff, a board member of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Leading Republicans are Sheriff's Department Lt. Larry Bowler, who has run and lost in this region before despite having raised large amounts of money, and Anthony Pescetti, deputy director of the state architect's office.

District 15

East Bay, including the cities of

Walnut Creek, Dublin, Livermore

50% Republican, 38% Democrat

Conservative Assemblyman William Baker (R-Danville), first elected in 1980, is leaving to run for Congress. Baker was the Republican state budget expert on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Political experts believe that GOP Contra Costa Sheriff Richard Rainey is Baker's likely successor in the lower house. He is a gubernatorial appointee to the state Board of Corrections and a past president of the California Sheriff's Assn.

The top Democrat in the race is Charles Brydon of Danville, a community college educator.

District 17

Central San Joaquin Valley,

city of Stockton

55% Democrat, 36% Republican

Assemblyman Dean Andal (R-Stockton) won a 1991 special election with a light turnout but faces a tough fight for survival in the fall.

Gov. Pete Wilson already has gone out on the campaign trail to help Andal raise money.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown is expected to siphon campaign funds to wealthy rancher Mike Marchado, the chairman of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau. Marchado also has hired Richie Ross, a top political campaign consultant, to plot strategy.

But Marchado first has to win the primary. Stockton teacher Mercedes Silveira, another Democrat, reportedly has the support of a large percentage of the Latino community.

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