Alioto Bows Out of Rematch for Calif. House Seat
By John E. Yang
Democrats' hopes of winning one of their most sought-after House seats were buoyed last week when Michela Alioto, the party's 1996 nominee, announced she would forgo a rematch with Rep. Frank Riggs (R-Calif.) and run instead to be California secretary of state.
That gives state Sen. Mike Thompson (D) a clear shot at challenging Riggs next year in the district that stretches along the state's northern coast from Oregon to the wine country of Napa Valley. Democratic officials had wanted Thompson to run against Riggs last year, but he declined. Riggs won only 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race in 1996 as Alioto, a former aide to Vice President Gore, trailed him by about 14,000 votes.
While Alioto had the benefit of a famous political name her grandfather was former San Francisco mayor Joseph Alioto and a compelling personal story she was paralyzed at 13 in a ski-lift accident she was a lackluster candidate, and Democratic officials sought to discourage her from a rematch.
Thompson got into the race early and had already raised $156,513 by June 30, according to Federal Election Commission records, while Riggs had raised $207,738.
The district is an odd mix of wine growers, lumberjacks and counterculture refugees and has switched hands several times recently. Riggs defeated Democratic incumbent Donald H. Bosco in 1990, lost to Democratic challenger Dan Hamburg in 1992 and then ousted Hamburg in the GOP tide of 1994.
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