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Zschau Now Favors Arms for Contras

March 06, 1986|KEITH LOVE and CARL INGRAM | Times Staff Writers

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ed Zschau, accused by rivals of abandoning President Reagan on some issues, has switched positions on proposed U.S. military aid for Nicaraguan rebels and now says he will support such aid.

Zschau, a two-term congressman from Los Altos, said Wednesday in an interview that he favors Reagan's proposal to give $100 million to the contras because he believes the Sandinista government in Nicaragua is too repressive and too close to the Soviet Union.

"A year ago I suggested that perhaps military aid to the contras as our sole policy was not broad or effective enough," Zschau said, "and that we should put more emphasis on diplomacy. But I also said that if diplomacy did not produce results and if the Soviet buildup continued, then we should take stronger actions.

"The latest (White House) report shows that the Sandinistas have not been forthcoming in negotiations, that internally they have declared a state of emergency and clamped down on the churches, that censorship has increased over the last year and that the amount of military assistance from the Soviet Union in the last five years totals half a billion dollars.

"So, while my position is still that internal reconciliation is the best solution in Nicaragua, to make that work the Sandinistas have to understand that if they are not forthcoming, the resistance to them will continue to be funded."

Bruce Herschensohn, another Republican U. S. Senate candidate, charged that Zschau had changed his position to improve his chances in the Republican primary. It is a charge that Zschau is likely to hear from other Republican Senate candidates when their party convenes this weekend in Santa Clara.

Zschau said his position switch may defuse some of his rivals' complaints about his loyalty to Reagan. But he added that if he wanted to please Republican voters, he would continue to oppose military aid to the contras .

"The polls show that California voters, Republicans and Democrats, do not support military aid to contras ," Zschau said.

A Los Angeles Times Poll taken in late January found that a majority of California voters--and a majority of Republicans--are opposed to more aid for the forces attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. The poll did not specify military aid. Last year Congress approved $27 million in non-military aid, which Zschau supported.

In another Republican Senate race development Wednesday, state Sen. Ed Davis accused Rep. Bobbi Fiedler of mailing at taxpayer expense what he called a "puff piece" designed to promote her Senate candidacy.

Davis of Valencia charged at a Sacramento press conference that Fiedler used her congressional postal franking privilege to send The Bobbi Fiedler Report newsletter to voters in her district after she announced her candidacy for the Senate.

Davis noted that when Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston spent $1.6 million on constituent mail during a three-month period last year, Fiedler attacked Cranston for "abusing" the franking privilege. Davis charged that the Northridge congresswoman's mailer constituted the same abuse and amounted to a "campaign brochure."

'Has No Shame'

"This congresswoman clearly has no shame," Davis said. The Fiedler mailer contained a photograph of her with President Reagan and included a discussion of the budget deficit, the defense buildup, foreign trade and how her office helped resolve constituents' problems.

Members of the Senate and House send "official mail" at taxpayer expense to constituents and others. Supporters argue that newsletters help politicians communicate directly with the people they represent, but the mailers have been denounced for years as campaign tools for incumbents.

Judy Ridgway, communications director for the Fiedler campaign, said: "I don't think you'll find anything in the newsletter that is relevant to the U.S. Senate race in California. It is relevant to her 21st Congressional District constituents.

"He is a desperate politician who is dead in this race."

Last year Davis instigated an investigation of Fiedler for allegedly offering him a $100,000 campaign contribution to get him out of the Senate race. Fiedler and top aide Paul Clarke were indicted Jan. 23, but their indictments were thrown out by a Superior Court judge Feb. 26.

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