Deukmejian Hammers at Bradley on Rose Bird Issue

Times Sacramento Bureau Chief

Gov. George Deukmejian raised another $1.6 million for his reelection campaign Thursday night at a Century City dinner where he blasted Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for delaying a decision on whether to support California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird.

“Tom Bradley says he will take a stand on Chief Justice Rose Bird in 60 days. If there’s one thing California doesn’t need, it’s slow-motion leadership,” Deukmejian declared in a speech to 1,600 supporters at a $1,000-a-plate Century Plaza Hotel banquet.

The Republican governor and his political advisers believe that regardless of the position Bradley finally takes on Bird’s reelection--endorse, oppose or remain neutral--it is a no-lose situation for Deukmejian. In their view, an endorsement certainly would be unpopular, opposing her would seem politically expedient and to do nothing would look weak.

Meanwhile, they believe, the governor is free to enjoy the best of all worlds while campaigning against his Democratic challenger--attacking from almost any angle on the dominant issue of California’s 1986 election campaigns.

“Mayor Bradley was a leader in Rose Bird’s campaign in 1978,” Deukmejian noted. “Now he says he hasn’t had the time to read her opinions. He’s asked a team of lawyers to do it for him and to tell him what his new position should be.


“Well, I have a question for Mayor Bradley: The most recent (public opinion) surveys show that 80% of the people have made up their minds about Rose Bird. Mayor Bradley, why can’t you make up yours? A great state like ours can’t afford leaders that fall silent when the going gets tough.”

Deukmejian justified his making such a big issue out of Bird with the observation: “Few responsibilities of being governor are more important to the lives of Californians and the future of our state than the appointment of judges to our courts.”

Deukmejian’s harsh attack on Bradley did not stop with the Bird controversy, an indication of the free-swinging campaign he intends to wage.

Noting that the Democratic mayor formally announced his candidacy last week in a tour of seven California cities, the governor said of Bradley: “No one’s ever sure that he means what he says the first time, so he had to repeat it six more times.”

Deukmejian added: “At one stop, he told a reporter that he always knew he would run for governor again. Funny, last year (in winning reelection) he told the voters of Los Angeles he had no plans to run for governor. But I’m not surprised. Tom Bradley does more flip-flops than the short-order cook at the International House of Pancakes.”

Deukmejian expects to pick up another $500,000 or more at a second $1,000-a-plate dinner next Tuesday in San Francisco. So far in his reelection effort, the incumbent has collected $6.5 million.

As an example of his campaign’s affluence, in stark contrast to Bradley’s, Deukmejian has spent about as much on television commercials in the last two weeks as the mayor had stashed in his entire political treasury at the beginning of the year.

Deukmejian has spent an estimated $600,000 to $700,000 on a statewide series of TV ads that are scheduled to stop running at tHe enD oF This week, according to a campaign official who did not want to be identified.

The commercials--promoting Deukmejian’s first-term record and ending with the theme “Great State, Great Governor"--were put on the air unusually early for a gubernatorial candidate with no primary election opposition.

A Deukmejian aide, who asked not to be identified, said the governor’s advisers wanted “to seize the initiative” and “provide a protective shield from the real negative and bitter attacks” of Bradley.

The aide added: “The two most significant decisions so far in this campaign are the governor’s in going on TV early and Bradley’s in delaying taking a position on Bird. Those may still be the most significant decisions when the November election is over.”