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L.A. mayor, a top Republican, endorses Democratic senator

Rep. Michael Huffington suffered another hard political blow to his reeling Senate campaign Sunday when his Democratic opponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, won the endorsement of the state's second-most-powerful Republican, Mayor Richard Riordan of Los Angeles.

Riordan, whose political prominence as a California Republican is overshadowed only by that of Gov. Pete Wilson, said he was supporting the senator rather than Huffington because she had shown "an amazing ability to work with Republicans and Democrats to help solve the problems of Los Angeles and California."

"I'm not against anybody," the mayor said at a midday news conference, with Feinstein at his side. "I'm for Dianne Feinstein. Dianne Feinstein has proven herself. If Michael Huffington is elected, he can prove himself. But she has already proved that she's a friend of Los Angeles."

Feinstein, in thanking the mayor, said it was difficult to find enough words of appreciation.

"This is a very important endorsement," she said. "It signals that I can work in a bipartisan way in Washington to do all that I can for the great city and people of Los Angeles."

The endorsement could give Feinstein, a Northern Californian, a political boost in heavily populated Southern California, where she is weakest. But it by no means assures her of re-election in the neck-and-neck contest, despite Huffington's recent difficulties.

It came in the aftermath of a week in which Huffington found himself repeatedly on the defensive and showing signs of political strain because of disclosures that an illegal Mexican immigrant worked for five years as a nanny in his house in Santa Barbara.

One of Huffington's main campaign planks calls for stronger measures to control illegal immigration.

In particular, he is a strong supporter of the hottest issue in California politics this fall, Proposition 187, a citizen initiative on the ballot that would deny illegal aliens most government services, including schooling and non-emergency medical care.

Asked about Riordan's break with his party, Huffington predicted Sunday morning on the ABC News program This Week that the impact would be negligible.

In a strongly word editorial Sunday, the Los Angeles Times called for defeat of Proposition 187 on Election Day, Nov. 8. The editorial spoke of "the perniciousness, even terror" of the measure.

In another editorial, the paper endorsed Gov. Wilson, but not before calling his support of Proposition 187 "hopelessly wrong." The editorial was the first endorsement of any candidate for governor by the paper in almost a quarter century. Before publication, according to Times employees, the endorsement was hotly contested by some Hispanic staff members.