Preparing for a last-minute burst of activity before Tuesday's primary, Marian W. La Follette has poured $149,000 of her own money into her campaign for an open state Senate seat, bringing the total amount she has loaned her campaign to $199,000.
La Follette said she made a $50,000 loan to her campaign on Friday, followed by a $99,000 loan on Saturday, to blanket the 19th state Senate District with mass mailings of campaign brochures. The district stretches from Oxnard to the San Fernando Valley.
"I just didn't want to let people down," said La Follette, an independently wealthy widow. La Follette moved to Thousand Oaks earlier this year to compete with Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) and Fillmore City Councilman Roger Campbell for the Republican nomination in the 19th District.
"A lot of people believe in this campaign, and I didn't want to halt the campaign because of a lack of funds," said La Follette, who served in the Assembly from 1980 to 1990. "We are going to win."
She said the loans were necessary to put her on equal footing with Wright, who has been able to raise far more from political action committees during the campaign.
But Campbell and Wright's campaign manager said they were outraged that La Follette had reached deep into her own pockets to boost what they said was a flagging campaign.
John Theiss of Wright's campaign called the hefty loan a "pathetic" attempt by La Follette to buy a Senate seat. "It's a last-ditch effort by a desperate candidate," he said. Wright could not be reached for comment.
Campbell, who has raised only $13,382 to challenge his better-known opponents, lashed out at La Follette and Wright for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their campaigns and for courting special-interest groups. He said Wright had collected $25,500 from doctors' political committees alone.
"It seems to me that both are making efforts to buy the election," said Campbell, who was endorsed Tuesday by Ventura County Sheriff John V. Gillespie.
Last week, Wright reported raising $189,682 this year while spending $247,156 on her campaign. Several of her contributions of $5,000 or more came from large corporations, developers and political action committees representing real estate, insurance and medical groups. At the same time, La Follette reported raising $157,541 this year and spending $143,051. Her contributions included the $50,000 personal loan and $10,000 from retiring Sen. Ed Davis (R-Santa Clarita), who now occupies the 19th District seat.