For the seven contenders in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, this was the week to turn over the cards in their high-stakes poker game, showing who has been raising money as the race heads into the homestretch.
The leader, according to federal reports, is Rep. Ed Zschau of Los Altos, who pulled in $593,000 in the Jan. 1 to March 31 filing period. He is the only GOP candidate beginning to show a statewide fund-raising base.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and former commentator Bruce Herschensohn finished in a virtual dead heat behind Zschau. Antonovich raised $356,000, most of it in Los Angeles County. Herschensohn raised $346,000 in the recent quarter, almost all of it in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Economist Arthur Laffer was next with $297,000, much of it from outside California.
Antonovich strategists pointed to a figure they like on the new report--the $578,000 in cash they had as of March 31. That compares with only $257,000 for Zschau. Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge) also had a lot of cash on hand--$403,000.
But all three campaigns bought a lot of television time recently so it is unclear if any of them has much money as they head toward the June 3 primary.
The April 15 report was the first filed by Herschensohn, who was the last of the seven contenders to announce his candidacy. In addition to the $346,000 he raised in the January-March period, Herschensohn also carried over another $70,000 in contributions from 1985.
The single largest contributor to Herschensohn's campaign was the candidate himself; he kicked in $90,000 on March 12. As of the end of March his campaign had a balance of $39,266. Herschensohn, until recently a popular commentator for KABC television and radio in Los Angeles, used his fan letters to set up a direct-mail fund-raising list. His reports show many $200 contributions, almost all of them in the KABC television and radio market.
Both Zschau and Antonovich decided to limit their use of direct mail because the technique has had mixed results in the last year.
Jim Dutra, Antonovich's campaign manager, said, "We have not done a lot of direct mailing because nationwide it's off. One of the reasons is that Republicans are feeling good about the job performances of President Reagan and Gov. Deukmejian. They respond best when they don't think things are going well."
Laffer is the only candidate who raised campaign funds from all over the United States in the recent quarter. For several years the economist, a leading proponent of cutting taxes to generate growth, has had a heavy national speaking schedule. Recently that schedule has accommodated Senate fund-raisers.
From Greenwich, Conn., to Shawnee Mission, Kan., to Mercer Island, Wash., Laffer pulled in more than 600 contributions of $200 each.
Why would an executive at a leather tanning company in Red Wing, Minn., give Laffer $200 for a California U.S. Senate race?
"He probably would be a good addition to the Senate," said the executive, who asked not to be named. "Senators do things other than be concerned with just the narrow constituency that elected them."
In all, Laffer has now raised $972,000 in the Senate race, starting in 1985 when he formed his exploratory committee. But he was left with a debt of $13,000 on March 31. Laffer explained that he built a fund-raising operation that was too expensive for what it brought in.
Antonovich has brought a grand total of $966,000 into the race, about half of it raised recently and the rest transferred in from the war chest he has built since he was elected county supervisor in 1980.
Zschau leads the Republican pack with a grand total of $1.6 million as of March 31. About $200,000 of that was left over from his 1984 House race.
His early contributions came mostly from his Northern California base. But the latest report shows Zschau raising money in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley as well.
Zschau is also the leader in another category--he has spent $904,000 on TV advertising.
The latest federal reports show that Fiedler raised $79,992 from January through March. She also recently took out a $35,000 loan against a $100,000 certificate of deposit that will mature on May 2, according to campaign spokeswoman Judy Ridgway.
Fiedler said recently that she lost valuable time after she was indicted on Jan. 23 on charges that she had offered another Senate candidate, state Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia), a $100,000 campaign contribution if he would quit the race.
Thrown Out of Court
A Superior Court judge threw out the indictment on Feb. 26, but Fiedler said in an interview that "it cost me 30 days" in time spent on the case that she had hoped to spend raising money.
Fiedler has brought a grand total of $819,000 into the Senate race, half of it transferred from her 1984 House campaign account.
Davis' latest report shows he raised $60,835 from January through March. That gives him a grand total of $516,496. Davis' latest report showed him $33,000 in debt as of March 31.
Although money becomes crucial as the Senate race enters its final stage, Fiedler and Davis each argue that though they did not raise as much in the last quarter as some of the others, polls show that they have much greater name recognition than, say, Zschau.
Assemblyman Robert Naylor (R-Menlo Park) raised $85,738 from January through March. He has raised a total of $515,109 for the Senate race and had a balance of $35,000 as of March 31.
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), the man all these Republicans would like to face in November, reported raising $1.1 million in the latest quarter. All together, the three-term incumbent has raised more than $4 million for his race, much of it from individuals giving less than $200 apiece.
The senator had a balance of $2.3 million on March 31. A substantial amount of what he has raised has been plowed back into direct-mail fund-raising, according to Joy Jacobson, his chief fund-raiser.