GRILLING OIL: Campaigns offer fertile ground for kissing babies, shaking hands and bashing big oil interests.
In recent weeks, three Democratic candidates in the 28th Senate District, which includes South Bay's coastal communities, have held press conferences and issued statements promoting their stand against oil projects.
Last week, at a Hermosa Beach event to announce the endorsement of the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters, Torrance Councilman George Nakano voiced his opposition not only to offshore drilling but also to a proposal to drill on land for oil in Hermosa Beach.
"The effects (of oil drilling) are irreversible. That's the real problem," said Nakano as he gave a $20 check to the Hermosa Beach Stop Oil Coalition.
"What does that have to do with the state?" asked Tim Mock, campaign manager for incumbent Ralph C. Dills (D-El Segundo), of Nakano's opposition to the Hermosa drilling. "It seems like he's running for City Council rather than state Senate."
Dills has been supported by the oil industry, including $2,500 in campaign contributions from Jan. 1 to March 17. But Mock points out that the senator recently received praise for getting a bill through the Government Organizational Committee last month that bans new oil leases in state tidelands.
Another candidate in the Democratic primary, public interest attorney Mike Sidley, plans to take a tour of Santa Monica Bay today, in part to discuss offshore drilling.
MONEY FOR DILLS: Dills leads his opponents in spending so far this year, according to the latest financial disclosure statements.
Dills spent $102,000 from Jan. 1 to March 17, well ahead of Nakano with $24,157. Sidley spent $1,417, and Manhattan Beach real estate broker Jo Ann Rodda filed a short form that indicates she does not plan to spend more than $1,000.
But Nakano nearly matched Dills in cash on hand as of March, with $132,317 in his campaign coffers compared with Dills' $140,053. Sidley had $16,283.
Nakano's campaign has criticized Dills for having no individual contributors listed in his latest report. His biggest contributions were $5,000 from the Bicycle Club Casino in Bell Gardens and another $5,000 from Hollywood Park.
"If you look at Nakano's (contribution list), it looks like all Asian surnames," Mock said. "If you are going to talk diversity, we have many different interests" supporting Dills' campaign.
He said teachers associations and manufacturers unions also gave money to Dills.
"If someone gives to a union or a political action committee, those are individual contributions," Mock said.
STILL SLUGGING: The campaign teams of Rancho Palos Verdes Councilwoman Susan Brooks and former Palos Verdes Estates Councilman Ron Florance met two weeks ago to iron out their differences. But on stage there's as much bitterness as ever.
The two 36th Congressional District candidates appeared Sunday at the League of Women Voters forum in Torrance, with Brooks once again charging that Florance will be so caught up in litigation over a past real estate deal that he will be unable to effectively campaign against incumbent Jane Harman (D-Marina del Rey).
"We don't need a Republican-style Whitewater in California," Brooks said.
Florance, who threatened to sue Brooks two weeks ago for distributing a letter accusing him of having a "tainted business background," called Brooks' remarks "trash statements by a desperate candidate."
Brooks also chided Florance for giving his campaign a $150,000 personal loan--at 10% interest.
He did give his campaign a loan, with the 10% interest, said John Carlson, a Florance consultant. But the interest--which was placed on the loan on the advice of his lawyers--was waived several weeks ago, he said.
HAYDEN ON THE HILL: State Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) will take his gubernatorial campaign to the Palos Verdes Peninsula on Sunday. The lawmaker and 1960s political activist will appear at a Democratic Club forum at 2 p.m. at the Shops at Palos Verdes. His opponents, State Treasurer Kathleen Brown and State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, may send representatives. Also scheduled to appear are Nakano and Sidley. Mock plans to represent Dills.
Community correspondent James Benning contributed to this report.