One man is a political outsider, catapulted to national prominence as one-half of the Jarvis-Gann team that fathered California's Proposition 13 tax revolt.
The second man is an insider, a political veteran and Democrat cumm Republican who served 12 years as mayor of Los Angeles, ran two unsuccessful campaigns for governor, and even took a shot at the presidency.
Paul Gann and Sam Yorty both hope to unset veteran Sen. Alan Cranston -- one of the half-dozen Democratic US senators listed on the so-called "hit list" of the Natonal Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).
But before either one of them challenges Mr. Cranston in November, the two men must take on each other -- and five other GOP candidates -- in California's June 3 primary.
Eclipsed by the presidential race and controversial propositions on tax cuts, rent control, and a tax on oil profits, the Republican Senate race has generated little voter enthusiasm.
According to recent polls, tax rebel Gann and former Mayor Yorty are well ahead of their opponents -- and are virtually tied.However, those same polls also show that four in every 10 Republican voters remain undecided.
Senator Cranston faces token opposition in the primary. But he was targeted last August, along with other liberal senators like George McGovern and Birch Bayh, by the NCPAC, which has raised $90,000 of the $400,000 it plans to spent to oust him in November.
The two-term lagislator, argues NCPAC and the Republicans now vying to run against him, has been too soft on defense and too liberal on spending. Mr. Cranston was a leader of the fight ratify the Panama Canal treties and opposes of the Kemp-Roth tax cut bill -- both unforgivable positions in the eyes of staunch conservatives.
But Republicans concede their battle to defeat Mr. Cranston promises to be an uphill one. According to a recent California Poll, Mr. Cranston would beat Mr. Gann in November by a healthy 59 to 27 percent, and Mr. Yorty by an even wider margin, 62 to 23 percent.