By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But to return to the Hayden conundrum: Why did the senator turn the race in the 42nd upside-down by his surprise entry, only to turn it over again by his surprise withdrawal? The short answer, it seems, is Gray Davis. After serving 16 years under George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, Hayden told me on Tuesday afternoon, “I had a virtual infatuation with the idea of coming up to Sacramento with Gray as governor. There was this period, which lasted for months, of intense relief -- a chance to finally finish the legislative agenda and projects I‘d been working on for years.” Some of that agenda became law, and Davis signed the park bond measure, to appear on the March ballot, on which Hayden long had labored. But over the past few months, a number of Hayden bills that had passed both houses -- bills that put ex--gang members on crime-prevention panels, that required the state to monitor drop-out rates and the number of certified teachers and AP classes at both suburban and inner-city schools, that created children’s health standards at toxic school sites, that established a commission on the L.A. River -- were killed by Davis vetoes. “The bills he vetoed weren‘t designed to challenge him from the left,” Hayden told me. “They were designed for his signature. Both houses supported them, in some cases by a two-thirds margin. When those vetoes came, stuck under the door of my office by the hand of a messenger -- no phone call, no dialogue, no nothing -- it was more than disappointing. It was a nightmare.
”Now, I was already termed out of the Senate,“ Hayden continued. ”The only reason I’d thought of running for the Assembly was high expectation.“
Hayden‘s political disappointment abetted his personal misgivings. ”I’m turning 60 later this year,“ said the man who once said, ”Don‘t trust anybody over 30.“ (”Does that make me doubly untrustworthy?“ he wondered.) ”Do I want to spend five more years of my life commuting to Sacramento? Sacramento has to be very rewarding to justify that.“ Hayden and his wife, actor Barbara Williams, have been seeking to adopt a child, which made the Sacramento commute even less attractive.
In his letter, Hayden took pains to assure his supporters that he wasn’t abandoning electoral (much less, progressive) politics, writing that he‘ll consider ”running for political office in Los Angeles, where I can be closer to my family . . . “ Increasingly over the past few years, Hayden has focused his attention on L.A. issues -- from the MTA’s maladies to the Belmont boondoggle. ”There are [electoral] possibilities in L.A. city and L.A. County,“ he said on Tuesday. In a conversation last summer, Hayden disavowed an interest in the mayoral race if Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa made a serious run for it -- which Villaraigosa has now embarked upon. (Hayden waged a desultory campaign for mayor against Richard Riordan in 1997.) Now, Hayden says, he wants to ”beg the question“ of what, if any, city office he‘ll be looking at -- though those omnipresent term limits will create vacancies in 2001 in a couple of Westside and West Valley city council districts that overlap with Hayden’s Senate seat, and Zev Yaroslavsky‘s supervisorial seat could come open if Yaroslavsky ever decides he wants to run for mayor, and wins.
Or, says Hayden, he may opt just to write and speak. The odyssey here isn’t simply that of a progressive in a conservative time; it‘s more personal than that. For now, the outsider is wandering again.