Political Combatants Throw Final Punches : Democrats Implore Voters to Go to Polls to Swing Tight Races

Times Political Writer

California's Democratic candidates, fighting Republican gains in a state they once dominated, wound up their campaigns Monday.

They promised to protect the environment and implored their traditional constituencies to vote today in an election in which turnout will be a crucial factor in close races.

Sen. Alan Cranston, locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Ed Zschau, visited the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which he helped create, and told cheering supporters:

"Of the hundreds of bills on which I have worked during my nearly 18 years in the Senate, none has meant more to me than those that have protected the California wildernesses and preserved our coastline and wild rivers."

Cranston said he believes that his decision two years ago to join with gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley in a massive get-out-the-vote operation will pay off for him today. Observers in both parties are predicting that turnout will be the big factor in the Senate race.

The voter effort has targeted 2,000 heavily Democratic precincts statewide where apathy has hurt Democratic candidates in recent years.

Cranston was not just going after Democratic votes as he wound up his toughest reelection fight ever. He has done well with Republican voters in the past, and his spokesman, Kam Kuwata, predicted Monday that he would attract Republicans once again.

"Alan Cranston will defeat Ed Zschau because Zschau just hasn't given moderate Republicans a good reason to vote for him," Kuwata said.

He was alluding to the once-moderate Zschau's decision to move right in the general election in order to shore up his standing with conservative Republicans.

Coastal Area Voters

Kuwata also predicted that Cranston's long standing as an environmentalist would attract Republicans in the coastal areas.

As he campaigned from Los Angeles to Chico on Monday, the senator was joined by the Democratic nominee for controller, Assemblyman Gray Davis of Los Angeles.

Davis, who reveres Cranston's political skills, made his own appeal to Republicans in the campaign's closing days, sending out letters of endorsement from Republican businessmen to 1.5 million GOP households.

A recent poll showed Davis leading his opponent, state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), by 17 points.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley, facing an uphill struggle with Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, had reason to be less sanguine about the effect of his and Cranston's get-out-the-vote project, but his enthusiasm for it was unvanquished as he campaigned around the state.

Bradley added about 800 miles to the 70,000 he has traveled in the last nine months before ending the day in Los Angeles, where he will vote today.

Throughout the day he remained good humored, even when a few critics, carrying signs supporting Deukmejian, shouted "Duke, Duke" as Bradley spoke before a crowd at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated by police at 2,500.

Seeing the Deukmejian sign waving in a tree at lower Sproul Plaza, Bradley said, "That tree is growing an ugly. . . ." Applauding students did not let him finish the sentence. But when his supporters, an overwhelming majority of the crowd, quieted down, Bradley said, "But don't worry about it, we're going to prune that one tomorrow."

He struck an inspirational note at Berkeley, telling, as he has many times before, the story of his journey from the South-Central Los Angeles ghetto to UCLA, an education he said changed his life.

He urged his UC student audience to repay society for their educations by contributing time and effort to public service.

He made it clear that one such contribution would be to help him by voting for him and by working in the Democratic get-out-the vote drive.

"You are the great heart of the nation," he said. "You represent the hope of the nation. We need your help."

At another point, Bradley said, "Alan Cranston, our champion in 18 years in the Senate, needs your vote tomorrow."

Before driving to Berkeley from Sacramento, Bradley struck a harsher note in a speech to precinct captains in a suburban capital city community center.

"The election is now in your hands," Bradley said. "Today and tomorrow will determine our efforts to expose the despicable record . . . of the governor of this state, the man who has failed and refused to respond to the ordinary people of California."

Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, shown leading Republican Mike Curb in recent surveys, campaigned Monday in Fresno and Los Angeles, where he raised a question on many minds in this election: Has the overwhelmingly negative television advertising turned off the voters?

McCarthy said he hopes that it has not discouraged them as he urged senior citizens in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles to go to the polls today.

Winding up his campaign for a third House term, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Los Angeles) one of the bright young stars in the California Democratic Party, pondered the fate of his party, which saw its statewide registration slip to 50.8% this year, the lowest mark since the Depression.

"If we cannot turn out enough Democrats to reelect Alan Cranston, one of the most competent members of the U.S. Senate, then there is cause to wonder about the condition of our party," Berman said.

Contributing to this article were Times staff writers Bill Boyarsky, Kevin Roderick, Ted Vollmer and Leo C. Wolinsky.

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