Assemblyman Naylor Labels Rep. Zschau ‘Most Liberal’ : Friction Warms Up GOP Senate Contest

Times Political Writer

In Republican Party politics, there is what is known as the 11th Commandment. It prohibits one candidate for election from speaking ill of another. But like an ice cream cone, it doesn’t last too long when things get hot.

In the crowded GOP contest for the June, 1986, U.S. Senate primary, friction between two Silicon Valley candidates warmed things up considerably Wednesday.

Assemblyman Robert W. Naylor of Menlo Park, fighting to keep alive his long and dogged campaign for the nomination, is in danger of being overshadowed by the expected entry into the race of U.S. Rep. Ed Zschau, who represents the San Jose area.

Just the anticipation of Zschau’s candidacy recently brought forth a highly coveted endorsement for him from Northern California electronics mogul David Packard.


Naylor on the Attack

So Naylor went on the attack quite sharply at a press conference Wednesday, calling Zschau “the most liberal candidate in the field” seeking the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Alan Cranston.

At issue was a Congressional Quarterly accounting that found Zschau voting against President Reagan 43% of the time during 1984.

“At our joint appearances, I have to smile when I hear you invoking Ronald Reagan’s philosophy as though it were your own touchstone. I know much of your early support has been garnered in ignorance of your record,” Naylor said in a letter he wrote to Zschau and distributed to reporters.


Specifically, Naylor complained that his opponent voted against the President on authorizing the MX missile and against Reagan’s request to assist the Contra rebels fighting the government of Nicaragua.

‘Northern Strategy’

Naylor has long banked on a “Northern strategy,” hoping that five or more Southern California candidates will split the regional vote in the Los Angeles-Orange County-San Diego region while he shows better in the north by just enough to squeak to victory.

Zschau, who plans to make his candidacy official around the Thanksgiving holiday, responded as if Naylor’s attack was a gift.


“I’m really flattered. All the polls show me at the bottom of the heap,” he said. “For a candidate who has been in the race for a year to say this makes me feel like a front-runner.”

Zschau acknowledged being “independent minded” and voting against Reagan 43% of the time last year. But over his three years in Congress, he said, he has voted with the President about 70% of the time.