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Some Would Call Waters’ Republican Opponent a Celebrity, and Oh, Does He Believe?



If you have enough imagination to blow into Los Angeles one day as a faceless stranger and, out of a few cardboard boxes, invent the mythical honor of becoming the Most Celebrated, Most Influential Activist for the Homeless in America, you probably should not be discounted when a later political miracle is called for.

Mr. Ted Hayes Ted Hayes, who became a Republican of all things in the aftermath of 9/11, has preserved enough chutzpah from his heyday in the 1980s and ‘90s to believe he can knock one of the Washington monuments off her cement perch.

Tuesday’s election statewide election is merely the warmup for the 57-year-old Mr. Hayes.

He may be the biggest underdog in Los Angeles in November when he challenges one of the country’s unbeatable Democrats, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters — 32 years in perspiring, high-powered politics, 8 times re-elected to Congress.

Another number Mr. Hayes can play with this summer is that Ms. Waters is creeping up on John McCain’s age — on a day in August near where Mr. McCain reaches 72, Ms. Waters will turn the corner on 70. She won’t forget. Mr. Hayes won’t let her.

­ Even if it starts out lopsided, this is a Laryngitis Race that is going to be immensely for political buffs to watch.

Talk About a Talk Show

If Mr. Hayes ever can convince the bombastic, brilliantly defended Ms. Waters to debate him, they probably should start around the 4th of July. They’re a cinch to go into overtime. It is a dead-heat as to which one — forcefully — has more to say. Between them, they could talk the whole Coliseum under the table.

He is funny, knowledgeable, engaging, a raconteur, you might say. Tall, stick-straight and slender, he looks plenty fit to go a few rounds with Ms. Waters.

Twice before the King of the Homeless ran for office — for Mayor in 1993 and for the City Council in ’00.

This time he may have found a size that fits better, running regionally instead of citywide. In this shrunk-down situation, Mr. Hayes can better apply his tools, which surely will look meagre when arrayed against the majesty of the empire Ms. Waters has constructed during two decades in Washington.

It Is Not Halloween — or Is It?

Unlike Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, Mr. Hayes speaks blithely about having past embarrassments uncovered during his run for office, especially since his opponent is known for her hardball talents. When friends approached him to contest Ms. Waters, he said he protested, “I don’t want anything to do with a run for Congress or any elective office because I have too much stuff in my closet. I don’t want to deal with that. I don’t ant my stuff dragged out into the street.

“Talk about skeletons. I have a cemetery. It’s Halloween every time you go in there.

“But David Hernandez and others kept hitting at me last October, November. I said, ‘Okay, let’s do a survey.’ So I agreed. I said, ‘I am doing this, despite what I may personally have to go through. I am doing this out of a sense of duty to the country, to my father, who shed people’s blood, who shed his own blood (in Korea).

“I owe it to my father and to people much braver than I, civilian and military, who have made it possible for me to be where I am now.

“I don’t have a right to say” — and here in slipped easily into an exaggerated, almost comical, tone, ‘I can’t deal with that.’”

Down to the Present

When Mr. Hayes sat down with the newspaper, it was not as if he had to be ripped away from a pack of fang-baring journalists.

Describing the cadence of the campaign — 6 months along with 5 months to go — the native Marylander did not duck.

“Slow, very slow.”

Why?

“Partly because of who Maxine was/is, and partly because of who I am.”

This is not your standard-issue Congressional campaign.

“She, as you know, is a very strong national personality with a very powerful machine. People are afraid to confront her for fear of being accused of being a racist and sexist, double (jeopardy).”

One Race Only

Even as the demographics shift from black to brown, Ms. Waters’ seat has been regarded as reserved for blacks for decades, and black, politically speaking, is merely a euphemism for Democrat. There are fewer black Republicans in Los Angeles than there are dinosaurs 20 stories tall.

“Run against Maxine Waters? Republicans have a mindset that says, ‘Give it up.’ But I’m not going to,” says the indefatigable Mr. Hayes,

“Frankly a lot of people, not just Republicans, have told that to me. I say to them, ‘Yeah, but Maxine Waters never has had an opponent like me before. And she’s not used to running a vigorous campaign.”

A listener can sense that Mr. Hayes is warming to his cause.

“Whatever skills she had are rusty by now. The other advantage is that she is asleep. She’s busy trying to get Mrs. Clinton into the White House. Then she has to make a transition, apologize to everybody for not supporting Obama. So her head is over there. Shoe doesn’t take me seriously, which is good. I want her to be asleep. I want the Democrats to be asleep.

“Republicans did not want me to run as a Republican. Their thinking was, if I ran as an independent or decline-to-state I could pull from all parties because I am an attractive candidate.

“See, the district is 70 percent Hispanic, most of whom are not citizens of the country. What blacks are there, 98 percent are Democrats.

“But I am loyal to the house that my forefathers built. Anyone who knows Republican Party history knows the party was created to free us from slavery, to protect all people from social and economic injustice.”

(To be continued)

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