ELECTIONS: ASSEMBLY : Redrawing of District Seen as Unlikely to Unseat Polanco


Three-term Assemblyman Richard D. Polanco (D-Los Angeles) has encountered only mild opposition in his bid for a fourth term, even though he is vying to represent a redrawn district in which more than a third of the voters are new constituents.

A victory over Brian Quintana, 26, a local political activist and businessman, in Tuesday's primary would virtually assure Polanco's election in November to the heavily Democratic 45th District.

Polanco, 41, was elected in 1986 as assemblyman for the old 55th District in East and Northeast Los Angeles. He won successive terms with little opposition. But this year's redistricting has shifted Polanco's territory farther north and west.

Voters new to Polanco include residents of Chinatown, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Hollywood and Lincoln Heights. Areas that the district retained include Atwater Village, Boyle Heights, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Highland Park, Monterey Hills, Mt. Washington and Silver Lake.

The new district is 63% Latino and has a voter registration of 61% Democrat and 24% Republican. A large gay and lesbian population is in the district, which traditionally votes progressive.

Polanco, who has outspent his Democratic challenger, reported receiving more than $140,000 in contributions for his reelection campaign this year, according to the county registrar of voters. He had spent $95,000 as of May 16.

Polanco has handled legislation to expand business opportunities for women, minorities and veterans and to expand care for AIDS patients. He has also pushed measures to outlaw possession of child pornography and to crack down on reckless firing of guns.

Quintana, Polanco's Democratic challenger, is campaigning for grass-roots support in the economically depressed area. Quintana is hoping a protest vote will boost his chances.

Though he has worked in local, state and presidential campaigns, this is Quintana's first bid for election. He said he has raised about $13,000--all from small donations--and plans to use the money to distribute campaign literature with the help of volunteers over the next few days.

Candidates in the Republican primary are Howard O. Watts, a disabled veteran active in school issues, and Kitty Hedrick, a teacher. J. Luis Gomez, an accountant, is in the race as a Peace and Freedom candidate. None could be reached for comment.

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