Pre-election sparks light up California political scene

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Two major California political decisions within three days will affect elections in June and November.

On Jan. 28, the State Supreme Court ruled that new districts carved out last fall by the Democratic-dominated Legislature will be used in congressional and legislative races - both in the June primary and the November general election.

Two days later, at a state Republican meeting in Monterey, US Sen. S. I. (Sam) Hayakawa announced he had decided not to continue seeking the party's nomination for a second term. The 75-year-old senator thus made a move that many in the party had thought he would make in December.

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It had been evident for some time that he was having trouble raising funds, that his campaign was not getting organized, and that he was trailing at least three of the eight or more Republicans seeking to deny him renomination. Republican Party leaders in California, with the consent of the White House, had pressed the senator to get out of the race.

Rep. Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey of Menlo Park, one of those seeking the GOP senatorial nomination, expressed a view often heard in recent weeks when he said , ''Everyone (in the Republican Party) is looking for the person they believe can beat Jerry Brown.'' Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. is expected to win the Democratic senatorial nomination. Voter samplings have indicated Senator Hayakawa could not beat Mr. Brown, whereas they show Mr. McCloskey, Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. of Los Angeles, and Mayor Pete Wilson of San Diego as likely to do so.

McCloskey and other candidates indicated they felt Hayakawa's leaving the race would have little impact. The Menlo Park congressman and Hayakawa, former president of San Francisco State University, are from the Bay Area, and McCloskey might be expected to pick up some Hayakawa votes on a geographical basis. However, the congressman said he thought ''Sam's votes will divide among the candidates pretty much in proportion to their standings now.''

The California Supreme Court's decision on reapportionment will have profound effect on the outcome of elections this year. It could mean, in the opinion of some political analysts, a gain of six Democratic California seats in the US House of Representatives in November and lesser gains over the GOP in the state Senate and Assembly.

Veteran US Rep. Phillip Burton (D) of San Francisco was the author of the congressional redistricting plan passed - over howls of Republican protest - by the Democratic majority in the state Legislature.

In the case before it, the court had to decide to either use the old districts or those drawn by the state Legislature, since there is not time to draw new ones before the June primary. By a 4-to-3 vote, with Chief Justice Rose Bird writing the majority opinion, it was decided to accept the Democratically-drawn lines.

In a scathing dissent, Justice Frank Richardson accused the majority of an action that ''can only be perceived as an official alignment of the court with one side in a partisan dispute.'' The dissenters argued that precedent - in a similar 1973 case - dictated that candidates for the Legislature should run in the old districts.

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