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Gomez banking on magic words

February 04, 2004

Josh Kleinbaum

Gus Gomez is hoping that three words can put him into a judicial

seat: deputy attorney general.

Those are the words that will appear beneath his name on the

ballot for Superior Court judge next month. And with an electorate

that usually knows little to nothing about judicial candidates before

seeing the ballot on election day, those are the three words that can

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determine his fate.

"It really comes down to title," Gomez said. "Those [voters] that

do research, they'll judge on your overall record, look at your

education, trial experience, quasi-judicial experience. But it really

comes down to occupation."

Gomez, who is also a Glendale city councilman, is running for

Superior Court judge in the March 2 primary election. He has five

opponents, including three deputy district attorneys, a law school

professor and a trial attorney.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two

vote-getters will compete in a runoff in the Nov. 2 general election.

The winner takes office in January 2005.

When Gomez filed for the judicial position in late October, he

received criticism for running for a new office so soon after his

City Council election. But during that campaign, he thought he might

earn a judicial appointment from then-Gov. Gray Davis over the next

few years. When Davis was recalled and replaced by a Republican,

Gomez changed his plans.

"This is an extension of my career in public service," Gomez said.

"I'm very proud of the work that I've done on City Council, and I'm

very proud of the work that I've done as a prosecutor, but I feel I

can best serve the public from the bench."

If Gomez wins, he must forfeit his seat on the City Council. The

council could either appoint a replacement or, more likely, hold a

special election for that seat during the April 2005 City Council

election.

Even though his name and title will be the most important factors

in his election, Gomez is still campaigning, although with a

different tactic than he used in his two successful City Council

elections. Rather than focusing on meeting voters and individual

contact -- in a countywide election, the electorate is just too large

-- Gomez is working on getting endorsements and joining slates. A

slate is a group of candidates for various offices that send

countywide mailers together to save costs.

He has received endorsements from L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca,

State Atty. General Bill Lockyer, the California Assn. of Deputy

Attorney Generals, the Glendale Police Officers' Assn. and the Los

Angeles County Democratic Party, among others.

Gomez said he expects to spend about $50,000 on this election, and

he wants to raise about half of that, covering the rest with loans.

He said he already raised about $10,000. According to documents

obtained from the L.A. County Registrar's office, Gomez received

$2,675 in contributions as of Dec. 31, and added $30,497.84 in loans.

In his City Council election in 2003, Gomez said he spent between

$85,000 and $100,000.

"We know him in Glendale, but to do it in L.A. [County] is a big

challenge on his part," said Carol Cianfrini, who contributed to

Gomez's 2003 City Council campaign and his judicial campaign. "I give

him credit for pursuing it."

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