Cranston Takes Offensive With Early TV Ads

Times Political Writer

Democratic U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston has decided to get the jump on the Republicans before they can choose his opponent in the June 3 primary by going on television next month to “define the issues.”

Cranston has only token opposition in the Democratic primary. His manager, Darry Sragow, said, “We have always planned to run our own race irrespective of the Republicans. This is an ideal time to underscore the differences between Alan Cranston and the entire Republican field.”

There are 13 Republicans battling for the chance to take on Cranston in November. Seven of them have mounted credible campaigns by raising at least $500,000 each and by rounding up support from public officials and business leaders.

The 30-second Cranston commercials will not be screened for the press until Monday. But Kam Kuwata, Cranston’s campaign press secretary, said, “They will demonstrate Alan’s longtime commitment to the environment as well as to peace and family issues.”


On the Offensive

Putting the spots on now is also consistent with Cranston’s determination to stay on the offensive in the campaign. Two years ago he began rounding up endorsements and holding a series of community forums around the state. He also raised $4.3 million, far ahead of his pace in the 1980 election.

Kuwata said the commercials “show Alan in some natural settings and also doing his job in the Senate.” He said the voice of the ads’ narrator “will be recognized by most people,” hinting that it belongs to one of several well-known actors who have supported Cranston and his causes.

The ads were produced by Robert Shrum, David Doak and Patrick Caddell, Cranston’s Washington-based political consultants. Sragow would not reveal how much money the campaign is spending to run the ads now, but he predicted that “the average TV viewer in California will see Alan seven or eight times over about two weeks.”


With control of the Senate on the line in November, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has made Cranston one of its top targets. They point to a recent California Poll showing that an increasing number of Californians “identify” with the Republican Party.

But the Democrats still have a 3-2 edge in registration in California, and Cranston has always attracted a lot of Republican votes by mixing his liberalism with attention to business constituents. He also has a staff that even his critics concede is responsive.