U.S. Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills), 61, is seeking his 10th term in congress. A lawyer by training, the former state legislator is married and has three children.

Republican challenger Richard Sybert, 42, is an attorney and businessman who was director of Gov. Pete Wilson's Office of Planning and Research. He and his wife have one child.

This is one of the most closely watched congressional races in the state. The GOP is hopeful that Sybert, a Harvard Law School-trained policy wonk with money (he has already loaned more than $420,000 of his own money to the campaign), can bring the 24th District home as a trophy.

To help out, a hit parade of national GOP leaders, including U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) and U.S. Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kansas), have visited the 24th District to appear at Sybert fund-raisers.

But the professorial Beilenson, a legislator in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. since LBJ was president, is no easy target and in 1992 he gave GOP challenger Tom McClintock, a state assemblyman, a drubbing.

Beilenson has contrasted his own refusal to take campaign contributions from political action committees with Sybert's record of soliciting such special interest money. And the incumbent, relying on another old but often effective cliche, is painting Sybert as the rank outsider who only moved to the 24th District last year and relies on national GOP leaders to prop up his non-indigenous candidacy.

Meanwhile, Sybert says Beilenson is too liberal.

Sybert notes that Beilenson opposes Proposition 187 (the ballot measure to deny key social and educational services to illegal immigrants); voted for the tax hikes in the Clinton administration's deficit reduction plan; and has opposed the death penalty. Sybert backs Prop. 187; says he would have voted against raising taxes to reduce the deficit; and backs the deathy penalty.

The outcome of this race could be a cliffhanger.

The district runs westward from Sherman Oaks across the San Fernando Valley to Malibu and to Thousands Oaks in Ventura County. The registration is 46% Democratic, 39% Republican.

Also running is Libertarian John Koehler, a small business developer from Oak Park.

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