Los Angeles — The anti-busing fervor rumbling in the suburb-packed San Fernando Valley has not kept any school buses from rolling -- but it may yet derail the re-election bid of Democratic US Rep. James D. Corman, a 20-year congressional veteran.
In an election year marked by speculation that many liberals with long congressional tenure may be swept out of office on a national tide of conservatism, the race in the predominantly white, middle-class 21st California District is drawing considerable national attention.
It is one of the House of Representatives seats Republicans think they stand a good chance of winning this year. And for Mr. Corman, a longstanding liberal who was first elected to the seat in 1960 and is in his 10th term, it means the toughest fight ofhis political life.
His opponent, Bobbi Fiedler, is a local school board member who entered politics as the head of a local movement against court-ordered busing -- a battle which has stirred up many voters in the Corman district.
Underlying the busing unrest in Los Angeles County, however, is what many observers say is a common thread of voter dissatisfaction running through many congressional races across the country.
Corman, the ranking California Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, is accused of having lost touch with his district. While the congressman has kept his sights to the political left, critics say, his constituents have taken a sharp turn to the right.
Democrats still outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in the district, but in recent years voters have sent ut conservative signals, overwhelmingly supporting California's tax-slashing Proposition 13 and a more recent anti-busing amendment. The district has gone, as well, for Republicans like Lt. Gov. Mike Curb and state Attorney General George Deukmejian.
Still, the campaign appears to come down to busing -- an issue Mrs. Fiedler insists must ultimately be dealt with by Congress and which Mr. Corman insists is not a legislative matter.
Corman, who for years has supported busing as a last-resort measure to end segregation, has sent to each of the district's 175,000 voters an eight-page brochure detailing his position on busing.
The congressman has been accused of an about-face on the issue in stating recently that busing "is a miserable way to desegregate our public schools." But his campaign manager insists that statement is not out of line with his acceptance of busing as a last-resort solution.