Haynes Follows His Conservative Calling


State Sen. Ray Haynes (R-Riverside) displays the Ten Commandments on his Capitol office door--as evidence that his ultimate political consultant is the Almighty.

He says that God brought him to the Legislature, that God urged him to run for the U.S. Senate on March 7 and that God will be the judge of whether he is the Republican best suited to take on incumbent Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.

The self-described “confrontational conservative” is a blunt talker who favors dark suits and bright Rush Limbaugh-label ties. He once publicly outed a local politician as a homosexual and “nutzoid liberal.” He calls environmentalists “clean air Nazis,” and says global warming is hocus-pocus.


His legislative record shows that Haynes is not only an ideologue but also a pragmatic politician who carries legislation for supporters and campaign benefactors, ranging from the oil industry to home heater manufacturers.

Elected to the Legislature from one of California’s most conservative regions, Haynes--in polls and money--is distantly trailing Silicon Valley Rep. Tom Campbell for the U.S. Senate nomination. Some polls have even shown Haynes slipping behind San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn.

But Haynes sees that as no double-cross from above.

“If God wants me to be in this seat, I’ll be there regardless of how much they raise against me,” he said. “If God doesn’t . . . it doesn’t matter how much I raise.”

After he spent nearly all of the $98,000 that he had raised through December, Haynes recently sent out a desperate e-mail to 30,000 potential donors: “Most of you have to give now, or the liberal in the race will win,” he wrote, referring to the moderate Campbell.

Like a righteous ex-smoker, Haynes, 45, is revolted by liberals because he used to be one.

As a college freshman in 1972, he stumped for Democratic Sen. George McGovern for president and in 1980 voted against Republican Ronald Reagan. He admits that he backed “you know who” for the U.S. Senate in 1982--Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who lost.

After gaining a USC law degree, Haynes swung to the right when an antiabortion advocate asked him in 1983 to step into the high-profile legal fight over the life of quadriplegic Elizabeth Bouvia, a Riverside hospital patient who wanted to starve herself.


“I got involved in the case for the crassest of reasons: I wanted the publicity,” he said.

But he soon became disgusted with the American Civil Liberties Union’s defense of Bouvia’s right to die, which she abandoned after winning a protracted legal fight. “The woman was truly depressed and the ACLU wanted to let her kill herself,” Haynes said, shaking his head.

He did not change his registration to Republican until 1987, causing some critics to call him a political opportunist who pandered to conservatives in southern Riverside County. Because term limits will require Haynes to give up his state Senate seat in two years, they speculate that his U.S. Senate bid amounts to pump-priming for a future race for statewide office.

Haynes acknowledged that a run for state attorney general or state superintendent of public instruction might be attractive. But he said he decided to challenge Feinstein after “four solid months of prayer.”

In 1990, Haynes used an unsuccessful campaign as a springboard. He lost to state Sen. Robert Presley, a Democrat, but went on to gain a nearby Assembly seat. After reapportionment made Presley’s district more conservative, Haynes won that Senate seat in 1994.

Much of Haynes’ political support has come from Christian right conservatives who admire his religious convictions; he attends evangelical Calvary Chapel.

Former state Sen. Rob Hurtt--once described as “our Daddy Warbucks” by Traditional Values Coalition leader the Rev. Lou Sheldon--spent $500,000 on Haynes’ 1994 state Senate race. The Allied Business PAC, a conservative group that Hurtt helped form, donated $185,000 more.


Supporters commend Haynes’ dependably conservative voting record and his advocacy of Proposition 22, the March initiative that would ban recognition of gay marriages in California. Though Haynes said his top contributors never attempt to influence him, he does draw on the expertise of conservative think tanks.

When a Perris pastor was blocked from adopting a foster child because he would not swear off spanking, Haynes stood up for the right to spank. Unable to get legislation passed, he appealed to then-Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, who said that no law prevents parents from spanking.

To this day, a columnist at the Riverside Press-Enterprise calls Haynes “Sen. Spanky.”

Two years ago, Haynes floated an unsuccessful bill to increase government regulation of abortion clinics, despite his persistent calls for less government.

“The one thing government ought to do is protect the life of people,” he said. “If the argument is that abortions ought to be safe and legal, at a minimum they ought to be safe.”

But Haynes knows that he will need more than the religious right to win in March. He sees promise in a traditional Democratic stronghold--inner-city churches.

At a community day in South-Central Los Angeles recently, he stressed his own religious beliefs, then segued into a tailored message of economic empowerment and assaults on government red tape.


“He’s a Republican,” Pastor Edward R. Turner of the Power of Love Christian Fellowship told a crowd of hundreds. “But I sort of remember the . . . words, ‘If you’re going to play the piano, you’ve got to play both the black and white keys.’ ”

As a result of his conversations with African American community leaders, Haynes is carrying a bill to exempt hair braiders from stringent cosmetology requirements.

Haynes is counting on a torrent of individual contributions. So far, support from his usual major donors has been thin. At the last filing deadline, in December, no donation was more than $1,000.

The American Right to Life PAC, whose California chapter has endorsed Haynes, gave him only $250. By contrast, he received nearly $3,000 from six bail bond companies. Three years ago, Haynes carried a bill that would have given judges a third sentencing option in addition to jail and probation: probation with bail.

In the past, Haynes has received contributions from groups that benefited from his official positions and legislative actions.

An opponent of many environmental quality regulations, he has received more than $26,000 from oil companies since 1990. He opposes assault weapon bans and received at least $8,500 in campaign cash from several gun groups, including the National Rifle Assn.


In 1993 and 1994, he battled state fire officials in an attempt to lift the ban on unvented heaters. During those same years, he received more than $12,000 in campaign contributions and loans from heater companies.

Haynes says that he took the issue on because a Riverside company told him it would leave the area if it could not get the clearance. “My attitude was, they were a local business looking for regulatory relief,” he said.

In his Senate campaign, Haynes has attacked Campbell for his proposals to tax the Internet and legalize drugs. He has railed against Feinstein for her support of what he calls the “brutal tyrants” of the Chinese government.

Running against Riverside County Supervisor Kay Ceniceros in 1994, Haynes’ campaign released a television ad accusing her of being indicted by the county’s civil grand jury. Ceniceros had not been indicted, though the Board of Supervisors had been criticized.

Haynes said he didn’t review the ad in advance, but defends it to this day, suggesting that the dictionary definition for “indict” includes any written accusation.

Ceniceros took her own swipes at Haynes, alleging that the family values candidate left his wife for his secretary and fell behind in his child support payments.


“I screwed up, I’ll tell anybody. That’s a legit shot,” said Haynes, who denies only that the affair began before the marriage ended. He and his second wife, Pam, live with their two daughters in a Sacramento suburb, while Haynes keeps an apartment in his district.

Back home, some constituents grumble that he has ignored local needs.

“I don’t think he’s been effective in solving the problems that confront our district,” said Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, an independent whose district overlaps Haynes’.

For instance, while representing one of the country’s smoggiest swaths, Haynes has called for dismantling the regional Air Quality Management District. He argues that the agency’s policies have deterred companies from moving into the area, lengthening commutes and causing more smog.

Haynes scoffs at the criticism that he has brought little additional state funding to the district. Government money, he says, builds bureaucracies and comes with regulatory strings attached.

“If keeping the government off my constituents’ backs is all I do,” he said, “then I’ve done a lot.”


State Sen. Ray Haynes

Haynes is making his first bid for national office after serving eight years in the California Legislature.


* Age 45

* Residence Votes and maintains apartment in Riverside, lives with family near Sacramento.

* Education BA in political science from California Lutheran College, MA in public administration from Eastern Kentucky University, law doctorate from USC.

* Career highlights A lawyer by profession, Haynes got his first taste of politics on the Moreno Valley Planning Commission. He ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 1990, then won an Assembly seat in 1992 and the Senate seat in 1994.

* Interests Avid reader and Oakland Raiders fan

* Family Married with three daughters, ages 17, 9 and 6.

* Quote “Early on, I made the determination that I was going to speak my piece, step on whatever toes I had to, regardless of the consequences.”


Times staff writer Greg Krikorian contributed to this story.