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Surf City, a genuine Republican stronghold

October 14, 2004

Dave Brooks

It's business as usual in the offices of Assemblyman Tom Harman, who

is gearing up for his third and final campaign for his seat on the

California Legislature.

"It's going to be a very low-key election," the Republican

legislator said. "And I fully expect to get re-elected."

Working with his Chief of Staff Bob Biddle on the fifth floor of

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their office, Harman acknowledges his Democratic challenger to

represent Huntington Beach and the rest of the 67th Assembly district

with a tone of cordiality, but it's obvious he doesn't seem

threatened.

That's not going to deter David Silva, a retired postal worker and

Leisure World Seal Beach resident ready to turn the heat up and

attempt to unseat Harman. For what Silva lacks in the way of funding,

he makes up for in optimism and determination.

Traditional Democrats have not faired well in the 67th district.

In his inaugural 2000 run, Harman got more than twice the votes of

his Democratic opponent, and trounced Democratic challenger William

Orton in the 2002 election, beating him by nearly 40%.

"Really, whoever wins the Republican primary is the one who wins

the election," Harman said.

Part of that advantage is linked to the way the political

boundaries are drawn up for the 67th district, Harmon added, earning

it the distinction as a "safe" district for Republicans. The most

recent lines come out of a September 2001 Assembly redistricting

agreement that created specially designed gerrymandered maps that

secured districts for the majority Democrats but left a large portion

for the Republican party.

"If you look at the maps, there's really only two or three

districts that are uncertain," Harman said.

Tough odds, Silva acknowledged, but like past presidential

elections, the Democratic Party is banking on a third party candidate

to play to his advantage.

"There's a Libertarian candidate running this year, and the

Libertarians always take votes away from the Republicans," he said.

In the 2000 election, Libertarian Autumn Brown earned about 7.4%

of the vote, but it's unclear if this year's candidate Norm

"Firecracker" Westwell will do as well. Westwell also is trying to

manage campaigns for the Huntington Beach City Council and the

Oceanview School District without raising any money.

Besides, Westwell said: "I think it's the other way around. I

think he's going to be the one to help me."

If Westwell can take between five and seven points, Silva reasons,

and he can secure all the Democratic votes and a good chunk of the

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