Prop. 73 Pressuring Would-Be Governors
California politicians said Friday that the scramble set off by Gov. George Deukmejian’s decision not to seek reelection will become even more frantic in the coming weeks because of Proposition 73 passed by voters last June and effective this week.
The new law limits the size of contributions to state races and installs a timetable for when the money can be given. All agree that fund raising will be harder and that minds will have to be made up sooner.
‘Decide Right Now’
“What it means is you have to decide right now what you’re running for in 1990, and then you have to start raising money like crazy,” said Beverly Thomas of Unger/Thomas, a Democratic fund-raising firm based in Los Angeles.
Among the major provisions of the law:
- Contributions will be collected by fiscal year. Thus, with the current fiscal year ending June 30, candidates must raise as much as they can in the next six months or lose this period’s contributions forever. Previously they could raise all of their money at any time before the election.
“For all of the talk that Prop. 73 will reduce fund raising, it will actually force us to do more because no one wants to miss the six-month window,” said Democratic Assemblyman Richard Katz of Sepulveda, who is considering a run for lieutenant governor in 1990.
- The most an individual can give a candidate is $1,000 per fiscal year. Previously there was no limit in statewide races. Thus, wealthy donors who once wrote $25,000 checks for candidates must give their own $1,000 and persuade 24 others to do the same to get that $25,000 to the candidate.
- Political committees, including state parties, can give a maximum of $2,500 or $5,000 per fiscal year to a candidate. Which maximum they give depends on the size and longevity of the committee. Previously the committees could give any amount they wanted.
- Transfers from one campaign committee to another are forbidden. Thus, if a politician sets up committees for two different races while he tests the waters, he cannot transfer funds from one committee to another when he makes up his mind.
This will force candidates to choose the office they really want much sooner in order to maximize fund raising.
Impact Being Felt
Already the impact of the new campaign finance law is being felt in the wake of Deukmejian’s announcement.
Two Republican legislators who want to run for governor, Sens. John Seymour of Anaheim and William Campbell of Hacienda Heights, said they need to begin raising campaign funds immediately.
But they are hampered by the possibility that a bigger-named Republican, such as U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson or baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, may decide to run in the next few weeks.
As Seymour put it, “I will have to raise a lot of money to buy the name ID that a Wilson or a Ueberroth has. I need to know soon if they are running for governor so I can get going.”
Campbell, a proven GOP fund-raiser who ran strong in 1986 in losing the state controller’s race to Democrat Gray Davis, will almost certainly form a fund-raising committee soon, according to aide Jerry Haleva.
Pressure on Gates
The new campaign finance law is also forcing Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates to speed up his decision on whether to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 1990, according to Eric Rose, one of his political advisers.
Rose said Friday that Gates “will probably make his decision within the next week. It’s down to discussing it with friends and family. If the chief decides to run, it will be regardless of whether Wilson or Ueberroth are going.”
Reelected to Second Term
Wilson has been mentioned as the one Republican politician who could unite the party in a 1990 governor’s race, but there is no indication he wants to run. The senator, recently reelected to a second term, was on vacation and could not be reached.
Republican sources said Friday that some Wilson friends have asked other Republican politicians to keep their powder dry for the next few weeks while they try to persuade Wilson to run for governor.
The new campaign finance law, however, is likely to make restraint on the part of prospective office-seekers close to impossible, according to a number of Republicans.
After the initial flurry of activity in the next few months, “the day of reckoning under the new law will be Aug. 1 because that is when we will all know how much everybody raised between now and June 30,” said Steven Glazer, a consultant to state Senate President Pro Tempore David A. Roberti of Los Angeles.
“You’ll see a winnowing in all the races around Sept. 1,” Glazer predicted.
Two Democrats already have an advantage in the fund-raising department. Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp, who is planning to run for governor in 1990, is expected to carry $1 million of previously raised money into the new campaign season, according to a source familiar with Van de Kamp’s campaign funds.
Another potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Controller Davis, said he expects to carry in $750,000.
At one point both thought they would lose all of the money they had raised as of Dec. 31 because Proposition 73 banned the carry-over.
But the Fair Political Practices Commission ruled that candidates could carry in money that met the new law’s limits.