SACRAMENTO — Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, endeavoring to show that he is winning conservative support from GOP opponent Mike Curb, said Monday that a group of 48 prominent Republicans has organized to support his reelection.
One of the organizers of the committee, San Jose developer Charles Davidson, said he and other Republicans supporting McCarthy were embarrassed by a series of stormy political fights that characterized a term Curb served as lieutenant governor from 1978 to 1982 under ex-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Davidson, appearing with McCarthy at a news conference here, said McCarthy has "restored some dignity and honor to the office."
The group's organizing committee, which made announcements here and in Los Angeles, said, "McCarthy is dedicated to serving the public interest while Curb has demonstrated a lack of respect for the office of lieutenant governor."
Members of the committee include lobbyist Paul Priolo, a former state assemblyman and Republican leader of the lower house; San Diego County Supervisor George F. Bailey; Los Angeles businessmen Ted Bruinsma, a former U.S. Senate candidate and leader of Gov. George Deukmejian's transition team after his 1982 election; San Diego County Sheriff John Duffy, and Atherton Police Chief Richard Moore.
McCarthy supporters believe that the endorsements of Duffy and Moore will help blunt Curb's criticism of the Democrat's support of embattled Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird.
Both are members of the California Police Officers Assn., which has endorsed McCarthy and opposes Bird's reconfirmation to the Supreme Court in the Nov. 4 general election. Moore and Duffy are also working individually to defeat Bird.
Said Moore, who also spoke at the Capitol news conference: "If you are going to have a family, there are always going to be disagreements in the family."
Moore, like the other Republicans he appeared with, said he plans to vote for Deukmejian in the governor's reelection battle against his Democratic opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
Moore said police officers "are concerned" about McCarthy's support of Bird because of her record overturning death penalty cases but were in agreement with the lieutenant governor on most other issues.
McCarthy, the most prominent state Democratic elected official supporting Bird, played down the importance of the issue.
"We are going after Republican voters. I am not and never have been afraid of Mr. Curb's attacks," he said.
McCarthy said he hopes the election will be determined on "a straight-up" comparison of the records he and Curb have established as lieutenant governor.
The announcement of the McCarthy committee came just days after Curb began a statewide radio advertising campaign with a new attack on his opponent.
"I oppose Rose Bird, and my opponent in this fall's election supports her. I think it's time we get judges who give victims a better shake than the criminals," Curb says in the ad.
Numerous public opinion polls have shown Bird to be in trouble with voters because of her death penalty decisions. Curb's own private polls show that McCarthy loses support among voters when they learn he supports her.
Fred Karger, Curb's campaign manager, said of McCarthy's endorsements: "He may be able to find a few individuals who support him despite his Rose Bird stand, but the vast majority of voters are turned off when they find out that news."
Karger said Curb was not worried by formation of McCarthy's Republican committee.
"There are 4.6 million Republicans. He's got 48. He better do a lot better than that," Karger said.