McClintock Stepped Aside Before, to His Regret

Imagine this scenario: Facing doubts about winning, Tom McClintock drops out of a hotly contested political race to clear the way for a wealthy show business name, who then fumbles the bid, allowing a third candidate to capture the seat.

The 2003 gubernatorial race? Actually, it already happened, in 1986.

Former aides to McClintock say the 1986 debacle goes a long way toward explaining the state senator's stubborn resistance to dropping out of the current race for governor to clear the way for actor and fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

McClintock was the youngest member of the state Assembly in 1986, and believed that he was the leading contender to win the 21st Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge).

Simi Valley Mayor Elton Gallegly also was a candidate in the Republican primary, but McClintock, a Thousand Oaks resident, thought he had an advantage, and knew that whoever won the primary would capture the seat in the predominantly Republican district.

Then came the late entry into the Republican primary of Tony Hope, the wealthy, high-profile son of comedian Bob Hope. Against his better judgment, McClintock dropped out of the race after concluding that he could not overcome the advantages held by Hope, who had name recognition and immense fund-raising capabilities.

As it turns out, Hope was upset in the primary by Gallegly, who went on to win the congressional seat.

Months after the 1986 congressional primary, McClintock told The Times he was still kicking himself for not staying in the race, believing he would have "breezed past" Gallegly in the primary. "Every day, I regret that decision," he said then.

McClintock said last week that he could not give up the race for governor because he had promised thousands of supporters to stick it out, and because he thinks Schwarzenegger's beliefs are unclear.

Former aides who know McClintock well say they believe that 1986 incident helps explain his stand. "I think that race left a bitter taste in his mouth," said former aide Eric Rose.

Action Heroes Part Ways on the Recall

What's going on between Bruce and Arnold?

Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two of America's most popular action stars. Both are longtime Republicans. They are former business partners.

So Hollywood watchers were surprised recently to see Willis at a fund-raiser for Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' anti-recall campaign. Why hasn't Willis backed Schwarzenegger to replace Davis?

Is it fallout from their troubled business partnership in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, which twice has gone through bankruptcy reorganization?

Is it a natural result of their years-long competition for the same box office dollars?

If you listen to Willis, it's not personal at all. The star of the "Die Hard" movies told The Times it's just common sense.

"As I'm not a resident of California and therefore unable to vote in this election, I came out in favor of the no recall vote because I think it's a terrible idea," Willis said. "I view this as a nonpartisan issue and my choice has nothing to do with either candidate."

Willis contends he is fighting the spread of recall mania.

"I simply feel that if this recall is allowed to go through, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the country; i.e., any time a politician makes an unpopular choice he's going to feel he's in danger of being recalled because of his unpopular political stance," Willis said.

Mayor Hahn Gets His First Challenger

It appears that Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn will not get a free ride in seeking reelection in 2005.

Rumors continue to circulate that City Councilman Bernard C. Parks might run. But in the meantime, an attorney and political neophyte named Walter Moore has become the first person to file papers with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission to begin raising money for a challenge.

Hahn said he always expected some kind of challenge. "I would be disappointed if nobody wanted this job," he quipped.

A graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law Center, Moore has set up a Web site blasting Hahn's plan to spend $9 billion to modernize Los Angeles International Airport as a "boondoggle" that should be scrapped.

"Hahn's plan to move the parking lot miles away from the terminal would be as effective in preventing terrorism as the Maginot Line was in preventing the German invasion of France in World War II: At best it would merely reroute the attack to another location," he says on the Web site,

Fund-Raiser Saved With Court Ruling

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas heaved a sigh of relief last week when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals green-lighted the Oct. 7 recall election.

Why? Because, other than his support of the recall, a postponement could have dampened turnout at Thursday's Rackauckas fund-raiser featuring a recall Davis debate headlined by state Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) and former California Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel.

The $99 event was co-hosted by several Orange County legislators. Absent, though, was Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange), who is eyeing a potential D.A. race in 2006.

Rackauckas hasn't said whether he will seek a third term (his 2002 campaign still carries a debt).

But others have been more open about future plans: Dunn said he will be pushing $2 million by year's end in an account to run for state attorney general, when Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer is termed out in 2006.

Points Taken

* While serving as an advisor to Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign, Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) appears to have been bitten by the acting bug. The chairman of the House Rules Committee has filmed an appearance on "K Street," an HBO television series focusing on fictional lobbyists in Washington. Dreier appears in a scene discussing issues with which he has long been involved -- copyright infringement and intellectual property rights. Sexy stuff!

* Washington is a city of great museums, but one kind of historical repository is missing from the landscape, according to Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles). The congressman said last week that he will introduce a bill to establish and fund a federal commission to explore the viability of creating the National Museum of the American Latino in the nation's capital. "If you take a walk down the National Mall, you will get as good a snapshot of America as you can find anywhere in this country," Becerra said. "Yet the lessons of our history, art and culture are still incomplete."

* The law firm of Smith Kaufman, whose clientele has included many local elected officials, has put a political spin on its decision to move to a new address. "We've been recalled from our office," the change-of-address mailer says. "And we've elected to move to a new one." The mailer includes a faux ballot titled "Smith Kaufman Recall 2003," which lists principals of the law office and adds the request, "Vote for everyone!"

You Can Quote Me

"Never take your eye off San Diego."

-- Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, warning a new city appointee to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has been in competition with San Diego County over the state's limited water supply.

Contributors to this week's column include Times staff writers Nancy Vogel and Jean Pasco. Regular columnist Patt Morrison is on vacation.