3 Leaders Emerge in Race for Dixon’s Seat


With more than two dozen people competing for the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Julian Dixon, the race for the 32nd Congressional District seat in southwest Los Angeles has consolidated around three well-known names.

Of the 27 candidates who have filed or taken out preliminary papers to run in the April 10 special primary election, former state Sen. Diane Watson, who recently completed an appointment as U.S. ambassador to Micronesia, is considered the clear front-runner; she is followed by state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) and City Councilman Nate Holden.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Feb. 22, 2001 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 22, 2001 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
Campaign contributions--In a story Wednesday on the 32nd District congressional race to fill the seat vacated by the late Rep. Julian Dixon, The Times incorrectly reported that EMILY’s List, a women’s political donor network, was responsible for $9.2 million in contributions to women candidates between 1990 and 2000. The group’s members contributed $9.2 million to candidates in the years 1999 and 2000.

“It’s a horse race, a three-way horse race,” said Assemblyman Herb Wesson, who toyed briefly with the idea of running for the seat. Wesson, who hasn’t endorsed anyone, said Watson is the leader, but he wouldn’t rule out a Murray or Holden victory.


“I’ve never seen Kevin more focused,” he said, adding that “Nate is the ultimate warrior and has been in more wars than the two of them combined.”

All candidates will run on the same ballots, regardless of party. If no one gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held June 5 among the top vote-getters in each party. The filing period for those seeking to put their names on the ballot ends Monday.

With little time to spare, candidates have been scrambling to set up headquarters, garner endorsements and raise dollars.

Murray and Holden launched their campaigns shortly after Dixon’s death.

Watson got off to a slower start--the result of being out of politics since she was forced by term limits to give up her state Senate seat at the end of 1998, combined with her being outside the country until January, when her appointment as ambassador ended.

Watson’s political fortunes picked up last week when she was endorsed by EMILY’s List, a women’s political donor network. The group, which claims 69,000 members, made $9.2 million in contributions to women candidates between 1990 and 2000.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to put her leadership in Congress,” said Ellen R. Malcolm, president of EMILY’s List. “Watson would bring to the House of Representatives her vast experience of serving the people of Los Angeles.”


For Watson, making the list was a boost.

“We are working hard to put money in our coffers for this particular race,” said Watson, who estimates that the campaign could cost as much as $600,000. “Being that I have been out of office for over a year, we have to start anew.”

In the meantime, all the candidates have been vying for support from politically influential House Democrats from the Los Angeles area, such as Reps. Maxine Waters, Howard L. Berman and Henry A. Waxman.

Waters, who has yet to make an endorsement, has said that some of the candidates in the crowded field should drop out so that a consensus can be built around one candidate. Assemblyman Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas have announced plans not to run.

In seeking a consensus candidate, Waters said, “Past grudges will be put aside. We are looking for the best candidate to run.”

Murray, whose camp estimates that he has already amassed more than $300,000 for the race, has also focused on key endorsements and has picked up one--Waxman’s.

“I’ve known Kevin Murray and his family for many years,” Waxman said. “I think he has done a terrific job and wanted to give him my support.”


Murray also has gotten the nod from a list of politicians and community leaders, including Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade, a large self-help organization based in south Los Angeles.

Watson also has picked up a key endorsement--from former Congressman Mervyn Dymally.

A spokesman for Holden’s campaign said he wasn’t prepared to release a list of those endorsing his effort.

Holden, who has served in the City Council since 1987, and was in the state Senate from 1974 to 1978, said he will run on his record.

“We are all going to say the same things,” Holden said of the Democratic front-runners. “It’s my record that will over-shine theirs.”

The candidates, other than Murray, Watson and Holden, are: Kirsten Wonder Albrecht, Richard Lee Atkins, Jules Bagneris, Wendell Banks, Derl G. Brown, Craig L. Carlson, Michael A. Cyrus, Mervin Leon Evans, Frank Evans III, Wanda James, Philip A. Lowe, Emilio Lunda, Edward Lawrence Manderfield, Mike Ratner, Franklyn A. Rodgers, Linda E. Schexnayder, Kenneth N. Schwartz, Elisha Smith, Blair Hamilton Taylor, Leo James Terrell, Albert M. Vera, Donna J. Warren, Bob Weber and Kathy Williamson.