CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS : In the Senator's Race

Republican Senate candidate Mike Huffington and rival Sen. Dianne Feinstein released new television commercials this week.

* THE HUFFINGTON AD: The candidate is featured walking through a tree-filled setting as he talks. "There are two reasons why I invested my own money in this race," Huffington says, speaking to the camera as soft music plays. "Special interest cash buys votes in Congress. And career politicians are destroying this country." Huffington then contrasts himself with Feinstein. "The basic difference between Mrs. Feinstein and me is that I believe in less government. She believes in more government, higher spending and higher taxes."

* THE ANALYSIS: The ad focuses on a primary theme of the Huffington campaign--that the candidates have sharp, philosophical differences on the role of government and lawmakers. Huffington contends that Feinstein supports higher taxes because she voted for President Clinton's 1993 economic package. He has voted against many of the appropriations bills that come before Congress, charging that they contain too much spending. Huffington said he is also independent of special interests because he is financing his own campaign while Feinstein has raised money from political action committees.

* THE FEINSTEIN AD: The ad lists a number of California law enforcement organizations that have endorsed Feinstein. A narrator says: "Every California law enforcement organization endorses Feinstein, even those that endorse Gov. Wilson. None endorse Huffington." The ad then notes some of Feinstein's anti-crime positions--her sponsorship of the federal assault weapons ban, a bill to keep guns out of schools and her commitment to only support judges who favor the death penalty. Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block is also featured: "Although I'm a registered Republican, I'm pleased and proud to join with other members of law enforcement in endorsing Sen. Feinstein for her reelection."

* THE ANALYSIS: Feinstein has been endorsed by 16 California police organizations. Many supported her opponents in previous races. Huffington's campaign charged that the ad is wrong, however, noting that one police group, the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, has endorsed the Republican. In part, the one-sided support is because of Feinstein's strong support of the federal crime bill that passed this year. Huffington cast a vote that was criticized by law enforcement groups who believed it might jeopardize the bill.

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