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Second Key Aide Quietly Leaves Bird Campaign

December 17, 1985|JOHN BALZAR | Times Political Writer

California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, continuing to have problems adjusting to demands of reelection campaigning, has lost yet another professional political manager and heads into the 1986 election year with a home-grown campaign organization.

John Law, a campaign consultant based in Washington, confirmed Monday that he is no longer advising the chief justice on her campaign for the November, 1986, vote. He is the second nationally known political adviser to part company with Bird as she and her fellow liberals who hold the majority on the state Supreme Court face an unprecedented political challenge from conservatives.

"I'm no longer involved with the Bird race, and I will say no more," said Law, whose previous clients have included U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.).

Sources supporting Bird's confirmation said the chief justice had been unwilling to delegate authority and hesitant to take the organizational steps that Law and other professional campaign advisers told her are essential if she is to survive. By these accounts, there was no blowup or confrontation, just a quiet deterioration of relations. So peaceful was Law's departure that a Bird campaign official said early Monday that he thought Law was still on the payroll.

Bird, lagging in the polls and with many sympathetic elected officials refusing to support her, decided to head into the campaign with a coterie of lawyers rather than political specialists advising her, and this decision left some backers worried.

"Here she is, now less than a year before the election, and she's without professional guidance. This is crazy," groused one supporter with a background in grass-roots politics. "Everyone in the state who is running for high office has already assembled a team."

Steven M. Glazer, spokesman for Bird's Committee to Conserve the Courts, said Law never had more than a short-term contract and had completed his duties. Glazer declined to say if Law would be replaced.

"We have a very strong organization in place. It takes a strong organization to put $1 million in the bank," Glazer said. ". . . We don't want to spend all of our money and time on staff and overhead like the anti-court campaigns are doing."

Among senior advisers on Bird's campaign committee, Glazer said, he is the one with the most direct campaign experience, serving as deputy campaign manager in 1982 when then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. lost his race for the U.S. Senate. The committee is run by Anthony Murray, a trial attorney and former president of the California State Bar.

Earlier this year, Bird retained the Santa Monica-based campaign firm of Zimmerman, Gilanty & Fiman, which started to organize her campaign in traditional political fashion. Bird then turned her back on the firm abruptly, saying she had wanted it only to do her television commercials, a task the firm's Bill Zimmerman said he still expects to undertake, even though it has been months since he was in contact with campaign personnel.

Another nationally known political specialist, pollster Pat Caddell, was hired by the chief justice this spring to take a public opinion survey and offer his advice. Glazer said Caddell continues to share his views with the campaign.

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