The leadership of the California Republican Party pleaded with its 10 U. S. Senate candidates Saturday to refrain from attacking one another, but some of them were having none of it and lashed out at each other during the semiannual state party convention here.
Meanwhile, the man they would like to beat in November, Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, was in a restaurant not too far away and took great delight in reports of the Republican infighting. In Northern California to do some fund raising, Cranston also said he was greatly relieved that Baseball Commissioner Peter V. Ueberroth had decided not to become a GOP Senate candidate.
As the Republican Senate candidates prepared to give five-minute speeches to the convention, state party Chairman Clair W. Burgener reminded them that President Reagan has asked them to observe the "11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."
"The task of uniting the Republican Party after a spirited primary is enormous," Burgener said, "but it is easier if the candidates focus (only) on ideas and issues. . . . If you don't like each other, please don't let us hear about it.'
Seconded by Antonovich
Burgener's plea was seconded by one GOP Senate candidate, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. But others lost no time in renewing hostilities. Menlo Park Assemblyman Robert Naylor stepped up his attacks on fellow Rep. Ed Zschau of Los Altos, accusing him of letting Reagan down in some congressional battles.
Naylor has made that charge before, citing, among other things, Zschau's vote against building MX missiles. But this time he assailed Zschau's recent television commercials, saying "he has run a lot of TV ads and they should have a warning label: 'Hazardous to the Reagan agenda.' "
Zschau, a two-term congressman, has taken issue with that in interviews, saying his record is one of independence mixed with support for most of Reagan's programs. But until Saturday he had ignored Naylor's charges in public appearances.
When his turn came to speak, Zschau extolled his credentials as a former businessman and then urged his fellow candidates to sign a pledge not to refer to each other in speeches, commercials or direct mail.
This drew loud applause. But judging by the applause that Naylor also received, there are also some Republicans who have no problem with the attack approach.
Economist Arthur Laffer, whose Senate campaigning generally has stuck to the high ground, used his five minutes to remind the crowd of more than 500 that if they like Reagan's economic policies, they should vote for him because he helped formulate them. He then turned to Burgener and asked, jokingly, if it was OK to attack Cranston.
State Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia) decided the 11th Commandment was irrelevant if people continue to ask him why he set off an investigation that led to the indictment of Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge) and her top aide, Paul Clarke, on charges that they tried to lure him out of the Senate race with a campaign contribution. The indictments were recently thrown out.
"How could I turn in a fellow Republican?" Davis began his speech. "Let me give you my biography, and you'll understand." He then cited his service as Los Angeles police chief and called for higher ethics for all politicians--including Republicans in the state Legislature, some of whom he accused of dishonesty in helping pass fireworks legislation for convicted influence peddler W. Patrick Moriarity.
"You are the losers in this," Davis said to the audience.
Attack on Cranston
Fiedler never referred to her recent legal troubles or to her feeling that she has been a victim of unfair charges by Davis. She stuck to her plan to attack Cranston and extol her strengths as a fiscal conservative and social moderate.
But in a breakfast news conference earlier, Fiedler did say she will not endorse Davis if he is the Republican nominee.
Told about this, Davis said: "If she doesn't mind her tongue, somebody is going to steal her broom."
Amid the Republican bickering were eloquent speeches by some of the Senate candidates--Bruce Herschensohn, a former broadcaster; Joseph W. Knowland, former Oakland Tribune newspaper publisher; Harvey Mudd College Prof. Bill Allen, and former Black Panther leader-turned conservative Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver got the only standing ovation when he said: "I don't have any money or any balloons. But balloons ain't going to win this thing."
Several miles away from the Republican convention, Cranston ate lunch and talked by phone with a reporter, asking with a laugh, "So are they still over there banging each other around."
Cranston then volunteered: "I am glad Peter Ueberroth has decided to remain baseball commissioner. He would have been a formidable opponent. Since I have no primary opposition, that means I have cleared two hurdles."