Money Proving to Be of Primary Importance : Politics: The candidates for the hotly contested 23rd Senate District have raised $1 million so far.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The forecasts of an expensive primary were right on target.

Financial reports from Democratic state Senate candidates Tom Hayden, Catherine O'Neill and Herschel Rosenthal showed that fund raising in the fight for a new seat on the Westside and San Fernando Valley has already passed the $1-million mark.

Based on the latest filings, which show contributions through May 16, the 23rd District Senate race appears destined to be one of the most expensive primary campaigns in the state. The winner is all but assured of election because the district is heavily Democratic in voter registration, and there is no Republican on the ballot.

State Sen. Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) led the pack, having collected $448,085 since the beginning of the year, bolstered by large contributions from Senate Democrats, labor unions and special interests in Sacramento.

Fighting for his political survival, Assemblyman Hayden (D-Santa Monica) raised $359,789 for his Senate bid. But 80% of the money came from Hayden himself or his own political organizations. His campaign report showed a total absence of support from Assembly Democrats or Sacramento-based political action committees.

In all, Hayden reported $178,000 in personal loans to his campaign from Jan. 1 through the close of the reporting period. But the figure grew to $339,000 on Tuesday when Hayden lent his campaign another $161,000 to finance a barrage of mailers sent to voters last week.

O'Neill, a businesswoman from Pacific Palisades, was a distant third in money-raising, having collected a total of $179,083 since the year began. Organized women's groups contributed more than $12,000 to her campaign.

As the race entered the critical closing weeks, O'Neill, seeking to make a political comeback 20 years after narrowly losing a Senate race, reported the least cash on hand, $39,620.

Rosenthal had the most money available, $182,296. Hayden reported $68,884. The figure is important because it is a measure of a candidate's ability to reach voters in the final days of a campaign.

Through mid-March, the three contenders had spent a combined $785,906, much of it to pay for the blizzard of mail, note pads, potholders and personalized letters now flooding the mailboxes of Democratic voters from Hollywood to Malibu and Studio City to Westlake Village.

Rosenthal has spent the most, $357,300, compared to $301,297 for Hayden and $127,309 for O'Neill.

The campaign contribution reports revealed dramatic differences in sources of support for the three contenders.

Rosenthal received more than $125,000 in transfers from the campaign funds of Democratic colleagues, including $25,000 each from Sens. David Roberti of Los Angeles, Barry Keene of Ukiah, Bill Lockyer of Hayward and $20,000 from Sen. Gary Hart of Santa Barbara.

The veteran lawmaker continued to receive checks for $5,000 or more from a long list of political action committees representing labor unions, horse racing interests, trial lawyers, tobacco companies and utilities.

By far the largest contribution to Rosenthal's campaign, $40,000, came from the National Partnership Investment Corp. of Beverly Hills. Rosenthal's campaign manager said she knew nothing about the company, which corporate records show invests in apartment complexes throughout the United States.

Hayden, whose campaign theme is a challenge to the special interests in Sacramento, has seen all of his political action committee money from previous years dry up. The vast majority of his campaign funds came from his personal wealth and $100,000 from his political organization, Campaign California. The organization is underwritten by proceeds from his ex-wife Jane Fonda's early workout tapes and records.

Hayden continued to receive contributions from grass-roots supporters while maintaining his ties to prominent members of the entertainment industry. He received $2,500 from Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, $1,000 checks from actor Ed Begley, actress Barbara J. Williams, singer Olivia Newton-John and Hard Rock Cafe restaurateur Peter Morton. Hayden collected $500 from actors Richard Dysart, Don Johnson, director Barbra Streisand and actress Melanie Griffith.

O'Neill has lent her campaign $19,000 since the first of the year. Her report also shows substantial contributions from women's groups, including various chapters of the National Women's Political Caucus, the Women's Political Committee and the California National Organization for Women Political Action Committee.

Santa Monica restaurateur Michael McCarty, whose plan to build a luxury hotel on the beach in Santa Monica became a hot issue in 1990, has hosted fund-raisers for O'Neill. His in-kind contribution totals $2,491.

O'Neill, a public affairs consultant, received the backing of Westside developers Doug Ring, Jerry Epstein and Harlan Lee. She also had significant contributions from the entertainment industry. The creator of the sitcoms "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade," Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, gave her $1,000. So did "Brooklyn Bridge" creator Gary David Goldberg and producer Grant Tinker. Walt Disney Studios President Frank Wells gave $500, while Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, gave $125 each.

In the competitive Republican primary in the 41st Assembly District--which includes Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Encino--former Santa Monica Councilwoman Christine Reed maintained her fund-raising edge. She raised $46,551 in the past two months and $98,145 overall, but she reported only $9,406 in the bank and debts of $20,888.

Santa Monica attorney Scott Meehan raised $18,915 this filing period, $14,000 of it from his own money. Meehan's fund-raising total since January is $26,385, and he has almost $4,000 in the bank.

Agoura Hills accounting professor Paul Foote has come up with $1,870, most of which was a $1,500 loan from himself. Retired engineer Fred Beteta said he has raised $10,333 since the first of the year, but his report was not available at edition time, nor was that of the other Republican candidate, businessman Stefan (Stu) Stitch.

The winner of the Republican Assembly primary will face Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Los Angeles), who collected $77,500. He had an ending cash balance of $131,750 in one account and $103,028 in another account.

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