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O'Connor Trailed Cleator in Spending

August 01, 1986|BARRY M. HORSTMAN | Times Staff Writer

Bill Cleator outspent winning candidate Maureen O'Connor by more than 2-to-1 in the June 3 San Diego mayor election, campaign finance reports revealed Thursday.

The reports, filed with the city clerk's office, show that Cleator spent $607,414.70 in the mayoral election, more than double O'Connor's spending total of $268,886.72. Cleator spent about $340,000 in the runoff, and the rest was spent in the February primary. O'Connor spent about $160,000 in the runoff and $110,000 in the primary.

Both candidates made sizable loans to their own campaigns and, as a consequence, ended the race with large deficits that they hope to pay off at an unusual joint fund raiser planned for later this month.

O'Connor, who said throughout the race that she hoped not to spend her own money in the race but stopped short of making a pledge to that effect, loaned $30,000 to her campaign in the closing days of the race, in which she defeated Cleator, a city councilman, 55.3% to 44.7%.

O'Connor's loan helped finance television commercials and other measures designed to counter Cleator's own TV ads and mailers in which he criticized O'Connor's attendance when she was a council member and her failure to publicly take a position on the retention election of Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird of the state Supreme Court.

The mayor's personal debt, however, has already been significantly reduced as a result of nearly $15,000 in contributions raised at a fund raiser this week, according to David Bain, O'Connor's campaign treasurer. About $10,000 of that money will be used to retire part of O'Connor's loan, with the remaining funds being used for other unpaid campaign debts, Bain added.

Cleator, meanwhile, loaned his campaign $45,000 and, as a result of other disputed bills involving some of his top campaign aides, ended the race with an overall deficit of $61,484.95.

Cleator's finance report notes that he is contesting an $11,000 bill submitted by his campaign manager, Dan Greenblat, former administrative assistant to Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego), and the $5,000 fee requested by the Pacific Gateway Group, a local political consulting firm. Neither Cleator nor Greenblat could be reached Thursday night to explain the nature of the disagreement over the bills.

The finance reports show that Cleator received contributions totaling $548,693.91, compared to $252,455.70 for O'Connor, which is well below her self-imposed spending limit of $325,000--$150,000 in the primary and $175,000 in the runoff. Cleator rejected O'Connor's request to abide by those limits, arguing that the spending ceilings would benefit O'Connor, who entered the race with a considerable name-recognition advantage stemming from her expensive 1983 mayoral campaign against Roger Hedgecock.

Throughout this year's race, O'Connor often hailed her spending limits as "a bold experiment . . . to end the craziness" of spiraling campaign costs--a trend to which she contributed by spending more than $780,000, including more than $560,000 of her own money, in her unsuccessful 1983 race.

Although plans for the possible joint O'Connor-Cleator fund raiser are not complete, Bain said officials from both campaigns hope that the event could pay off all or most of both O'Connor's and Cleator's campaign debts.

"It's kind of a unique idea," Bain said. "But it's a good way to solve two problems at once."

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