California's top Democratic state officeholders are braced for the November election with campaign cash balances far in excess of their Republican opponents, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Three-term Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, who is running unopposed, is sitting on a war chest bulging with $1.6 million in cash, but has lent less than $60,000 of it to his fellow Democrats.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy's reports showed that by June 30 his campaign had set aside $825,972.
His opponent, former Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, had only $18,289 in the bank. Curb, however, raised $833,327 and spent $1.18 million during the first half of the year, when he was locked in a battle for the GOP nomination with Sen. H. L. (Bill) Richardson (R-Hacienda Heights). McCarthy, who was unopposed in the primary, raised $797,716 and spent $371,969.
Despite the size of Curb's bank account, his campaign manager, Fred Karger, said, "We're very upbeat. . . ."
"We just finished a very costly primary campaign, and the fact that we were able to raise and spend more money than the incumbent (in the first half of the year) shows our fund-raising ability."
Rose King, McCarthy's campaign manager, said, "We've conserved funds during the primary where Curb spent it as it has come in. . . . Given (Curb's) history of fund-raising ability, I have no doubt that they will be more than competitive . . . during the remainder of the campaign."
In the most recent reporting period, which began May 18 and ended June 30, organized labor contributed more than $36,000 to McCarthy's campaign, including a single donation of $25,000 from the California Labor Federation of the AFL-CIO.
The Gersten Companies of Beverly Hills, which build and manage apartments, gave $15,000 and the Blackhawk Corp., a Northern California real estate developer, contributed $10,000. McCarthy received $13,000 from the president of ICN Pharmaceuticals of Covina and another $5,000 from the company itself.
Curb, who served as lieutenant governor from 1979 until 1983, received four contributions of $10,000 during the latest reporting period. Among those contributors were R. J. Reynolds Industries of Winston-Salem, N.C., the cigarette manufacturer, and Tune Up Masters Inc. of Woodland Hills, which operates auto repair centers.
Democrat March Fong Eu, seeking her fourth term as secretary of state, reported that she had $373,837 in the bank and no debts as she prepared to face Republican Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande in November.
A former assemblyman, Nestande had only $1,983 in cash on June 30 and had accumulated debts of $80,577.
Nestande raised $23,622 during the last reporting period, more than $13,000 of it through the New York investment banking firm of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. The firm itself gave $1,372 and the rest came from corporate officers. In March, Nestande was part of a unanimous Board of Supervisors vote that made Smith Barney the lead underwriter on a four-company team to sell $200 million in airport construction bonds. A Smith Barney executive said the company's contributions had nothing to do with the contract.
Democrat John Van de Kamp, seeking his second term as attorney general, had banked $501,618 by June 30, compared to less than $2,000 that his Republican opponent, attorney Bruce Gleason, had set aside. Neither candidate reported any debts.
Van de Kamp turned to fellow lawyers for most of the $64,940 that he raised in late May and June. Nearly all of the $9,176 that Gleason spent during the first half of the year came from a $10,000 loan he made to himself and later forgave.
In the open race for state controller, Assemblyman Gray Davis (D-Los Angeles) had banked more than $321,000 by June 30, the end of the latest reporting period, but had run up debts of $445,000. His opponent, Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), had $12,760 in his coffers, and owed $10,000.
Davis, who faced tough opposition in a three-way primary, raised $1.76 million and spent nearly $2.57 million between Jan. 1 and June 30 in his effort to win the $72,500-a-year controller's post. Campbell reported contributions of $765,758 and expenditures of $802,080 during the same period.
Neither candidate has the advantage of incumbency. But Davis' ability to raise money apparently has been enhanced by the years he spent as chief of staff to former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and his two terms in which he served one of the state's wealthiest Assembly districts.
Davis acquired his largest debt--a $400,000 loan from a Massachusetts trading company--in the waning days of the primary campaign. The loan was technically made by the Multi-National Trading Corp. of Auburndale, Mass., but was guaranteed by four individuals--Max Palevsky, a wealthy, longtime Davis supporter; Albert Gersten, president of the Gersten Companies; Steven Fogel of Los Angeles; and Steven Greene of Auburndale, a director of the company that made the loan.