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ELECTIONS / ASSEMBLY : 41st District Battle Boils Down to Party Politics : Primary: The views of GOP front-runner Christine Reed draw fire from foes who claim she is not a ‘real Republican.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 41st Assembly District Republican primary is winding down in much the way it began: as a party-credentials battle in which four men are attempting to portray front-runner Christine Reed of Santa Monica as too far removed from the conservative wing to be a “real Republican.”

She has even--horrors!--taken a few dollars from the enemy, registered Democrats or those who have donated money to other Democratic candidates.

According to opponent Fred Beteta, that makes her unworthy to carry the Republican banner in November in a district that includes Santa Monica, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and the southwestern San Fernando Valley.

“It would be a cruel hoax for Republicans if they were to nominate Christine Reed and find out they have nominated a near clone of Democrat Terry Friedman and his friend Willy (sic) Brown,” Beteta wrote in a mailer.

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The winner of the Republican primary will take on well-funded Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Los Angeles) in November. The district is regarded as winnable by either party.

In addition to Reed and Beteta, who ran against Tom Hayden two years ago, the Republican field includes accountant Paul Foote, attorney Scott Meehan and recent USC graduate and businessman Stefan “Stu” Stitch.

While all have tried to make the point that they are more conservative than Reed, Beteta has been the most vociferous, prompting Reed to describe the time-consuming process of responding to his attacks as “putting out Fred-fires.”

In one case, Beteta accused Reed of accepting money from “ACLU types,” particularly a woman who has the same name as an American Civil Liberties Union attorney. Reed put a stop to the claim when she told Beteta the woman is her neighbor, who has nothing to do with the liberal group.

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Reed, a former Santa Monica city councilwoman and mayor, is the only Republican candidate who has been able to raise enough money to make her name and views widely known across the district. She has raised about $100,000, and also landed a key endorsement from State Sen. Ed Davis (R-Santa Clarita), a former Los Angeles police chief.

When opponent Foote was asked about the Davis endorsement, he said that both Reed and Davis were too liberal to be representative of Republicans.

The problem, as Reed sees it, is that though the others may win a contest about who’s the most conservative, they cannot win the Assembly seat in November.

In announcing its backing for Reed, the Acorn, a weekly Westlake Village paper, said in an editorial that she “probably has the best chance of defeating Friedman, which in itself, earns our endorsement.”

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The editorial went on to offer praise for Santa Monica attorney Meehan, who next to Reed appears to be the most moderate of the bunch.

A Thousand Oaks Chronicle endorsement of Reed also noted her potential to beat Friedman. Like the Acorn, the editorial had much praise for Meehan.

The paper said “extreme right-wing Republicans” would probably be happier with Beteta, though “he’s too shrill to be an effective legislator.”

All of the candidates talk about reforming workers’ compensation, welfare and education. They are split on the abortion-rights issue, with Reed and Meehan in favor, and Foote and Stitch opposed. Beteta approves of first-trimester abortions, but is against public funding for poor women.

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Reed and Meehan are environmental activists. Reed stands alone in her support of the Los Angeles police reform measure, Prop. F.


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