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ELECTIONS : Floyd, McDonald to Be in Rematch for Assembly Seat : Legislature: In the primary, 19 South Bay candidates are running for five Assembly seats and seven for one Senate seat.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The most hotly disputed South Bay primary race for the state Legislature this year may be a rematch between two Carson politicians.

Two years ago, Juanita M. McDonald defeated incumbent Richard Floyd (D-Carson) in a bitter primary race for the 55th Assembly District seat.

She went on to win the seat in the general election.

Now their roles may be reversed. Floyd filed a declaration of intent to regain the seat from McDonald in this year’s June 7 primary.

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“It’s just amazing to everyone: What is he coming back for?” said McDonald, whose district covers Carson, Wilmington and Compton. ". . . I’m not worried about him. I have the overwhelming support of many of his old constituents.”

In all, 19 candidates are running for five Assembly seats and seven for one Senate seat in the South Bay. They have until March 11 to file their nomination papers.

Republicans hope that at least one of their primary victors will break the Democrats’ majority on the South Bay delegation in the general election.

“I think we can pull it back this time,” said California Republican Party spokesman John Peschong. "(The Democrats) are going to have a harder time than they think.”

Don’t expect a big Republican challenge in the 55th Assembly District, however. Democrats outnumber Republicans more than three to one. In fact, no Republicans are running in the primary, giving the Democratic victor a virtual lock on the general election. Libertarian Daniel Dalton is the only other candidate in the race.

McDonald’s victory in 1992 was a stunning defeat for Floyd and Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-San Pedro), who chose to run in the 55th because his district had been redrawn substantially.

Floyd said when he lost that he planned to run again, but McDonald said she and others were puzzled when he filed his declaration papers earlier this month.

“Everyone is baffled,” McDonald said. “They ask, ‘What is his problem? Can he get on with his life?’ ”

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Floyd, however, has a purpose for returning. McDonald has tried to amend the state’s motorcycle helmet law, which he calls one of his crowning accomplishments in 12 years in Sacramento. She sought a provision to allow motorcyclists 21 and older to choose whether to wear a helmet, but the measure did not pass.

“I got angry,” Floyd said. “I spent a good number of years putting helmets on Hell’s Angels. . . . There are some things so important to me. This was landmark legislation.”

McDonald said that her changes in the law would have made it akin to the bicycle helmet law, which allows riders 18 and older to choose whether to wear a helmet.

Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to avoid repeating a bitter 1992 primary battle when six hopefuls vied for the party nomination in the 53rd Assembly District, which stretches from Venice to Lomita. The most conservative of the Republicans, Redondo Beach Mayor Brad Parton, won the race, but was defeated in the general election by environmental lawyer Debra Bowen.

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This year, David Bohline and Julian Sirull, both insurance executives, will face off in the Republican primary. And party officials hope that in a district split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, their candidate can defeat Bowen (D-Marina del Rey).

"(Bowen’s) going to be tough to beat,” said Keith McCarthy, chairman of the county Republican Party. “We were surprised to lose last time. But absolutely, we will take that seat.”

But Bowen said the lack of more experienced players in the race is a sign that Republicans do not want to invest in another expensive campaign.

“There isn’t any local council member running,” she said. “Most people feel it is not worth the effort.”

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Some potential Republican candidates, including Bill Beverly, son of state Sen. Robert G. Beverly, chose not to run, McCarthy said. But Bohline hopes Republicans will get more enthusiastic about the race after the primary.

Sirull could not be reached for comment.

Republicans have lined up more familiar names to challenge Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D-San Pedro), whose 54th District includes the Palos Verdes Peninsula and San Pedro. Running in the Republican primary are Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Steve Kuykendall and Rolling Hills Estates restaurateur Jeffrey Earle, a former campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). Libertarian Alan Carlan and Peace and Freedom candidate Patrick John McCoy also are running.

In the 51st Assembly District, which includes Hawthorne and Inglewood, incumbent Curtis R. Tucker Jr. (D-Inglewood) has no challengers in the Democratic primary. Adam Michelin is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

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In the 52nd Assembly District, which includes part of Gardena, incumbent Willard H. Murray Jr. (D-Paramount) will face Stephen Hamlin and Patricia A. Moore in the primary. Republican Richard Rorex is running unopposed.

In the only Senate seat up for grabs, Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-Gardena), whose Sacramento career stretches back to the 1930s, could face a strong challenge from Torrance Councilman George Nakano in the redrawn 28th District. JoAnne Rodda and Mike Sidley also are running for the Democratic nomination.

Nakano, who said he plans to spend more than $200,000 on the race, said that Dills has been in office far too long.

“He’ll be 84 this year,” Nakano said. “I don’t think he has had this type of a challenge. He has had it fairly easy in the past.”

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Dills, however, said age is not an issue.

“It’s not a question of whether you can win a footrace or how many pounds you can push up--it’s how well you represent the people in your district,” he said.

The winner will face Republican David Barrett Cohen, the sole candidate in his party’s primary. Also running are Libertarian Arvid Donner and Peace and Freedom candidate Cindy Henderson.

South Bay Legislative Races

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Here are the candidates for state legislative races in the June 7 primary election.

STATE ASSEMBLY

51st District

Curtis R. Tucker Jr., incumbent (D)

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Adam Michelin (R)

52nd District

Stephen Hamlin (D)

Patricia A. Moore (D)

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Willard H. Murray Jr., incumbent (D)

Richard Rorex (R)

53rd District

Debra Bowen, incumbent (D)

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David Bohline (R)

Julian Sirull (R)

William Gaillard (Libertarian)

J. Kevin Bishop (Peace and Freedom)

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54th District

Betty Karnette, incumbent (D)

Jeffrey Earle (R)

Steve Kuykendall (R)

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Alan Carlan (Libertarian)

Patrick John McCoy (Peace and Freedom)

55th District

Richard Floyd (D)

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Juanita M. McDonald, incumbent (D)

Daniel Dalton (Libertarian)

STATE SENATE

28th District

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Ralph C. Dills, incumbent (D)

George Nakano (D)

JoAnne Rodda (D)

Mike Sidley (D)

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David Barrett Cohen (R)

Arvid Donner (Libertarian)

Cindy Henderson (Peace and Freedom)


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