Wilson Holds Most Cash as Senate Race Bears Down

Times Staff Writer

Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.), with a clear fund-raising advantage in his bid for reelection, had $850,000 more cash on hand than his Democratic rival going into the final stretch of the campaign, the candidates’ financial reports showed Monday.

However, the campaign of challenger Leo T. McCarthy, with $1.74 million in the bank on Sept. 30, insisted that the Democratic underdog will have sufficient funds to launch a spirited television campaign between now and the Nov. 8 election.

“People don’t know enough about Pete Wilson; they don’t know enough about Leo McCarthy,” said McCarthy campaign spokesman Kam Kuwata. “The question is: Who can come up with the right message to define themselves at the right time as the voters make up their minds.”


McCarthy, who has trailed Wilson in public opinion polls all year, collected $1.49 million in contributions during the period July 1 to Sept. 30, substantially less than the $2.36 million Wilson raised during that time, according to the financial statements.

The reports, which the candidates must file quarterly with the Federal Elections Commission, show that Wilson has outspent McCarthy by $6.2 million to $2.6 million during the first nine months of the year.

“We’re encouraged by the situation in terms of the overall campaign,” said Wilson campaign manager Otto Bos. “We have a little more in the way of resources than he has, but it also means he’ll be heard from in the next three weeks.”

During the third quarter, McCarthy spent about half as much on the campaign as the Republican incumbent, with expenditures of $1.08 million compared to Wilson’s $2.07 million.

Wilson ended up on Sept. 30 with $2.59 million in the bank, offset by debts of $124,000. McCarthy, meanwhile had $229,000 in debts and $1.74 million in cash on hand.

Since Sept. 30, the last day covered by the reports, the financial picture has undoubtedly changed. It is unclear how much money each campaign has already raised and spent during October and how much each will have for the remaining three weeks of the campaign.

Bos said Wilson raised $650,000 Sunday night at a fund-raiser in Los Angeles and plans another major fund-raiser in Northern California. During the first two weeks of October, Wilson spent $800,000 to $1 million on television advertising, leaving about $2.5 million for the remainder of the campaign, Bos said.

Altogether, beginning as early as 1983, Bos said the campaign has raised a total of about $12 million for Wilson’s reelection effort. In contrast, the McCarthy campaign had raised about $6 million by the reporting date, well short of its original $9-million goal.

Kuwata said the Democratic challenger is optimistic about reaching his goal of raising another $500,000 to $750,000 for television advertising.

“We’re right about on target of where we expected to be at this point,” he said. “We said from the beginning we would be outspent by Pete.”

Among those giving McCarthy $1,000--the maximum amount allowed under federal law--were actress Barbra Streisand, Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, former Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, and actors Alan Alda and Burt Lancaster.

Not included in McCarthy’s report was about $1 million from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which paid for all of the lieutenant governor’s campaign commercials during the third quarter.

The report showed that McCarthy paid $326,000 to the Washington-based firm of Coyle, Malchow & O’Brien for direct mail fund-raising solicitations.

Wilson’s statement, meanwhile, showed that his campaign spent $634,000 to buy television time during the reporting period.

Among those giving $1,000 each to Wilson were newspaper publisher Helen K. Copley, industrialist Norton Simon and Orange County developer Harold Segerstrom.