Incumbents, Campbell Take Lead in Fund Raising

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Fillmore Mayor Roger Campbell continues to hold a huge fund-raising lead over his three opponents in the race for a Ventura County supervisors seat now held by Maggie Kildee, who is retiring at the end of the year.

In state legislative races, incumbents continued to rack up big dollars for their reelection campaigns, and Canoga Park businessman Ross Hopkins led a field of six Republican candidates vying for an open Assembly seat that represents Simi Valley and Fillmore.

In the supervisorial races, Campbell raised a total of $51,000 as of Dec. 31, with $13,000 cash on hand for the March 26 primary, the candidate said. The bulk of his contributions came from area businesses and individuals, he said.

"I think what this means is that I'm appealing to people with my message of getting government back to being representative of the people and being [financially] responsible," Campbell said of his fund-raising lead. Although he had not filed his campaign finance report before the county registrar's office closed at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, he said the paperwork was dropped in the mail by the deadline, as required by law.

Trailing Campbell in fund raising were Kathy Long, a senior Kildee aide, who amassed $15,000 in contributions by the end of December, with $9,900 left over to begin the new year, according to her campaign finance reports. Al Escoto, another Kildee assistant, collected a total of $8,600, but had only $201 left in the bank. Camarillo Councilman Mike Morgan was last, with overall contributions of $8,000. Morgan, however, still had $4,000 left in his treasury.

The four are competing in the 3rd Supervisorial District, which stretches from Fillmore to Camarillo.

In the 2nd District, which includes Ventura and portions of the Ojai Valley, Supervisor Susan K. Lacey had raised a total of $31,000 by the end of the year, compared with Ventura Councilman Jim Monahan, who reported collecting $26,000.

But Lacey entered the new year in much better shape. She reported having $26,000 in cash on hand, while Monahan had a mere $2,000.

"The money race is just beginning," said Monahan, who said he hopes to raise $70,000 to $80,000 for the campaign. "We have several fund-raisers planned in January. We're pretty much where we want to be right now."

A third candidate, Ventura activist Carroll Dean Williams, did not file a campaign finance statement.

Supervisor John K. Flynn, who is seeking his sixth term, far outpaced his three competitors in the Oxnard-based 5th District race. Flynn collected a total of $16,000 in contributions as of Dec. 31, while his closest fund-raising challenger, Arlene Fraser, reported $4,600 in collections.

Two other challengers, Enrique Petris and Angel Diaz, did not file finance statements.

Bolstered by $79,000 of his own money, Hopkins leads the pack of GOP candidates amassing dollars to win the Assembly seat being vacated by Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills).

Hopkins' campaign had raised $133,338 and had $91,333 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, according to financial disclosure statements filed Wednesday.

Yet the bulk of the money came from Hopkins' personal finances, which he lent to the campaign--a hefty chunk he is willing to spend. "If I need it to win, I will spend it," he said.

Steve Frank, a Simi Valley-based government affairs consultant, had the second-highest sum in the race for the 38th Assembly District, which encompasses Simi Valley, Fillmore and western portions of the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

Frank reported raising $65,257 for his campaign, with $44,860 available at the end of the year. He said his contributors include attorneys pleased about his opposition to two March ballot propositions that limit contingency fees for attorneys in personal injury cases and block lawsuits related to automobile-caused deaths and injuries.

"There are a lot of attorneys supporting me, but also a lot of doctors and businessmen and others," Frank said.

Bob Larkin, a Simi Valley insurance agent, raised $53,921 as part of his Assembly bid, but had only $12,896 left in the bank as of Dec. 31. He said he has had hefty campaign expenses, including mailing letters to 15,000 Republican voters in the area.

Larkin said the figures do not reflect a big fund-raiser that he has planned next month, co-hosted by Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury. Bradbury, a local Republican power broker, recently endorsed Larkin's candidacy over the other GOP contenders.

Tom McClintock, a former assemblyman from Thousand Oaks who recently jumped into the race, reported $52,429 in contributions and $40,447 in the bank. The donations included a public opinion survey worth $4,750 that was conducted by one of the state's richest and most conservative special interest groups. The results of that poll drew McClintock into the race at the last minute.

Tony Strickland, McClintock campaign manager, said he expects a flurry of additional contributions when McClintock taps his rich list of 8,000 people who have donated cash to his previous races for Assembly and unsuccessful bids for state controller and Congress.

The campaign finance report for Peggy Freeman, a retired director of a Santa Clarita Valley community health clinic, showed overall contributions of $47,731, with $10,540 in cash left over as of Dec. 31. She said her contributors are not special interests, but people in the area who know her reputation as someone who "has solutions, not rhetoric."

Robert Hamlin, a retired deputy sheriff who lives in Castaic, came in last among Republicans competing for the open Assembly seat. He raised $217 so far in his campaign and has no cash left over. He said he will hold his first fund-raising event this month.

The winner of the March 26 Republican primary will face one of two Democratic candidates in November: Jon M. Lauritzen, a high school mathematics teacher from Chatsworth, or David Ross, a computer software engineer from Oak Park. Lauritzen raised $3,083, including $2,000 of his own money, he said. Ross had raised less than $1,000 as of Dec. 31.

In the 37th Assembly District, Assemblyman Nao Takasugi (R-Oxnard) reported raising $82,652 for his reelection campaign, with $45,142 in cash as of the end of the year.

His opponent in the Republican primary, Matt Noah, recently lent his campaign $81,000 to bring his total receipts to $85,000. Noah's Dec. 31 campaign financial statement reported $80,267 in cash on hand.

Jess Herrera, an Oxnard harbor commissioner and the lone Democrat in the 37th district race, could not be reached for comment.

Noah, an electrical engineer who lives in Moorpark, said he has not decided if he will spend the loan on his campaign in the district, which stretches from Oxnard to Thousand Oaks.

In the 35th Assembly District, Assemblyman Brooks Firestone (R-Los Olivos) raised $204,082 for his reelection effort. He had $66,356 in available cash, but does not have a primary opponent.

His Democratic opponent, Aneesh Lele, a political science student at UC Santa Barbara, could not be reached for comment.

The campaign financial statement of State Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) showed $168,182 in contributions, with $15,636 in cash and $20,000 in unpaid debts. Wright faces no primary opponent.

Her Democratic opponent, John Birke, a Chatsworth attorney, was out of town and unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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