California Elections : Contributions to Friedman Dwarf Those to 2 Foes : Westside money figures big in 43rd-District Democratic race
No one knows for sure which Democrat in the 43rd District Assembly race has captured the voters’ hearts. But it became quite obvious this week who has a lock on their wallets.
Terry Friedman, executive director of a Westside legal aid office, has soundly trounced his two Democratic opponents in fund raising during the primary campaign, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Friedman’s supporters had donated $187,526 by mid-May, and, with checks still coming in, the candidate expects to reach $250,000 by the June 3 primary.
Paltry in Contrast
In contrast, Rosemary Woodlock, who touted herself as the San Fernando Valley’s candidate, failed to generate much financial support from Valley residents or anyone else. Woodlock, a Woodland Hills attorney, reported a total of $2,100 from two supporters.
Woodlock said she has received $10,000 to $15,000 in contributions, however, since the filing deadline.
Bruce Margolin, the other Democrat, has not even done that well. The West Hollywood attorney, who is the Southern California coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has accepted $450 in contributions and lent his campaign $14,680.
Margolin said another $3,000 has come in since the filing deadline on May 17. He said most of his money has gone to blanketing the district with signs, a tactic that undoubtedly will further confuse voters who sometimes mistake him for Assemblyman Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles).
In the 43rd District, there is precedent for Friedman’s bulging war chest. Affluent constituents, particularly from the Westside, have usually donated generously to their liberal Democratic assemblymen. The district includes Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Westwood, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana and Studio City.
The heavy reliance upon Westside money in the 43rd District has prompted Valley constituents in the past to complain that they have little voice in who represents them.
The perception was not dispelled this year when Friedman, a Westwood resident, was chosen to run by the Westside political organization headed by U.S. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City). The district is now represented by Gray Davis, who is running for state controller on the Democratic ticket.
Woodlock, a longtime Valley resident who lost in a 1984 bid for county supervisor and the 1982 state Senate race, had made Friedman’s Westside connection a bugle cry in her campaign, urging Valley voters to rally around her. Apparently, the tactic has not worked.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there isn’t that much support out there,” she said. “It’s difficult when people perceive Terry will win it.”
Whereas most of Friedman’s money appears to be from the Westside, many contributions originated in the Valley. In fact, Valley residents wrote the two largest checks.
Anita Hirsh, a Studio City resident who is active in supporting Soviet Jews, early last month picked up a $22,500 tab at Chasen’s restaurant, where Friedman entertained 280 supporters who had each paid $250 for a cocktail party and dinner there.
Herbert Rosenkrantz, a Calabasas attorney whose 19-year-old son is on trial, charged with killing a teen-age schoolmate, donated $10,000. Rosenkrantz is a board member of Bet Tzedek, the legal services office that Friedman heads. Friedman described Rosenkrantz, who has contributed legal work to Bet Tzedek, as “the finest man I know.”
Friedman had little to say about his opponents’ inability to raise money, commenting, “From the beginning, I decided I was just going to run my campaign and do what I felt I needed to do to get my name across to the voters. I never tried to calculate what my opponents intended to do. I can’t say I’m surprised or not surprised.”
Friedman said he has spent most of his money sending out mailers and potholders to Democratic households across the district.
Elsewhere in the Valley, incumbents in the Senate and Assembly have predictably far outdistanced their opponents in the race for campaign dollars. Through swank dinner parties in hotel ballrooms and other less glittery fund-raisers, Valley lawmakers have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars this year.
Perhaps the most interesting money race in the Valley is in Democratic Assemblyman Richard Katz’s backyard.
GOP Targets Race
In the belief that the two-term incumbent from Sepulveda is vulnerable, Republicans have targeted the race, which will pit Katz against Robert Thoreson, a Los Angeles police detective, in the November general election. Neither has opposition in the primary.
The race in the 39th District--which swings between Democrats and Republicans in the legislators it sends to Sacramento--will be a rematch. In 1984, Katz beat Thoreson by 8%--a healthy margin, but not as wide as the incumbent would have liked.
Katz has a huge head start in fund raising. This year he has raised $210,186, primarily from a dinner dance at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel attended by 500 and featuring Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
On the same night, Thoreson held a much more modest cocktail party in Universal City. Fewer than 50 attended.
So far this year, Thoreson has raised $32,595 in monetary and in-kind contributions and loans. He is $5,500 in debt.
There are many other examples of lopsided fund-raising efforts.
Assemblyman Tom Bane (D-Tarzana), for instance, raised about $300,000 at his annual Valentine’s Day dinner at Sportsmen’s Lodge, raising his campaign bank balance to $550,607.
In contrast, the two GOP contenders in Bane’s district are running shoestring campaigns.
Brian Dennis, 31, a tax preparer and real estate and insurance broker from North Hollywood, has raised $1,404. Bruce Dahl, 33, a Van Nuys businessman, had not turned in his latest finance statement by the reporting deadline. Previously, he had raised less than $600.