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Candidate What’s-His-Name : Secession Issue Puts Adam Schiff’s Opponent in the Spotlight

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It’s tempting to pity candidate Adam Schiff.

The former federal prosecutor appears to have been on the wrong end of a major publicity blitz lately.

While he campaigns diligently in what is expected to be a tight race for the state Senate, opponent Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills) makes headlines day after day with her San Fernando Valley secession bill.

He trudges door-to-door in relative obscurity, meeting voters one by one or in small groups at coffee klatches thrown by supporters.

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She’s a sought-after guest on local television talk shows and fields tons of calls from reporters tracking the secession story. Politicians from Los Angeles to Sacramento debating the merits of secession inevitably mention, whether pro or con, the “Boland bill.” It even has a ring to it.

But is pity in order for Schiff? He says no.

Despite Boland’s enviable media exposure, Schiff insists that the secession issue will backfire on her in the 21st District, which is largely made up of independent cities such as Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and South Pasadena.

Voters there, he said, couldn’t care less about the woes of Los Angeles.

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“She is championing an issue that is irrelevant to our district. No one asks about secession,” Schiff said.

Moreover, Schiff said Boland’s deep ties to a Los Angeles issue only highlight a political problem--that she is a outsider who moved into the area after term limits caught up with her in the Assembly.

Although she successfully defended herself against carpetbagger charges in a hard-fought four-way Republican primary, one voter she failed to win over was Burbank Vice Mayor Bob Kramer. Kramer, a Republican, has taken the very un-Republican position of endorsing Democrat Schiff because of his command of local issues.

As for her bill to ease the way for Valley secession, if voters so chose, “in Burbank it’s not even being talked about,” Kramer said.

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Not surprisingly, the Boland camp puts a positive spin on the secession issue’s effect on her prospects in a swing district, where crossover votes are key.

The seat is currently held by retiring veteran state Sen. Newt Russell (R-Glendale), another term-limit casualty.

The Boland theory is that her bill on Valley secession, just like her bill to ease the breakup of the Los Angeles Unified School District, shows her as an effective legislator who goes to bat for her constituents, wherever they reside.

Voters in the new district “care about democracy,” Boland said. “They care about someone who’s up here fighting for their issues.”

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As her political consultant Carlos Rodriguez explained it: “In politics, people are either talkers or they’re doers. Paula is a doer.”

Voters will be drawn to such a can-do candidate “who takes on invincible targets and brings them down,” he said. “She fights for people.”

Assemblyman Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena), whose district lies within the state Senate district, also expects the secession issue to resonate with voters in his area.

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“I think it will play very well,” Hoge said. “They would like to see the Valley secede.”

Assemblyman James Rogan, whose district also lies within the 21st state Senate District, is also a major Boland booster.

Political experts said the issue could break either way.

Political newsletter publisher Dick Rosengarten said Boland is suffering from a “split political personality . . . she can’t decide what area she wants to represent.”

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Boland “can’t have it both ways,” he said. “Adam Schiff is going to kill her on this issue.”

But Sherman Oaks-based Democratic consultant Jill Barad is not so sure.

“It’s an interesting question,” she said. “Do people out there [in the district] give a damn?”

Barad said she leaned toward conventional wisdom and noted that exposure, any exposure, is better than none at all.

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“It doesn’t matter what it is, just spell my name right and get it in the paper.”


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