State Senator Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles), 76, is seeking his fourth term in the senate. A partner in a printing company who was in the state assembly from 1974 to 1982, Rosenthal is married and has two children.
Republican challenger Dolores White, 59, is running for the seat for the third time. A real estate broker from Reseda who formerly taught college-level business classes, White is married and has five children.
This is the seat with a Byzantine history. Alan Robbins held it until November, 1991 when he resigned after pleading guilty to political corruption charges. It next was captured in a June, 1992 special election by state Sen. David Roberti. He had been on the prowl for a new political digs after reapportionment had dismantled his old Hollywood-based district.
Roberti survived a nasty recall election in April, 1994 engineered by gun rights advocates that stunted his bid to become the Democratic nominee for state treasurer. Term limits are now forcing Roberti to step down in December.
Now comes Rosenthal, who has represented mostly West Side-based districts during his two-decades-long legislative career.
Rosenthal had been expected to retire rather than seek reelection to the unfamiliar and heavily Latino 22nd District seat allotted to him by the 1992 reapportionment plan. But Roberti's own imminent departure and - so the story goes - the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake changed that.
Citing his sympathies for the earthquake-ravaged Valley, Rosenthal has said he has felt called by duty to put his long years of legislative experience to good use by representing the Valley in its hour of need.
White doesn't buy any of this, of course. Rosenthal is a "left-wing carpetbagger" using the 20th District as a sanctuary, she claims.
But White, a sponsor of last spring's recall crusade against Roberti, is not expected to have the money to effectively make her case against Rosenthal. Meanwhile, the senator can rely on the financial firepower of the political machine of U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills) and Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) of which he is a member.
In any event, a GOP candidate in this heavily Democratic, working class east Valley district faces tough odds. The registration here is 58% Democratic, 29% Republican.