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Fiola's Failed Election Blitz to Unseat Floyd Proves Costly to Nolan

February 05, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The last-minute campaign blitz that failed to unseat veteran Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Hawthorne) in the Nov. 4 election has turned into an expensive affair for Assembly Republican Leader Patrick Nolan.

Campaign reports filed this week with the secretary of state's office show that the Glendale lawmaker and members of his GOP caucus shelled out $228,000 to support the losing effort of Floyd's challenger, Roger E. Fiola.

Floyd won 53% of the vote in the 53rd District, which covers Carson, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale and north Redondo Beach.

Part of the blitz, and a major campaign misstep for Nolan's Republican caucus, was the mailing of an unauthorized presidential endorsement letter by the Fiola campaign. Among other things, the letter told voters that if they believed in the campaign by President and Mrs. Reagan to "Say No to Drugs" then "you must Say No to Dick Floyd." The letter also accused Floyd of caving in to "the powerful underworld drug industry."

Endorsement Disavowed

But the White House disavowed that and other so-called presidential endorsement letters as unauthorized and has singled out two Nolan aides and a GOP direct-mail consultant for criticism. Nolan has blamed the letters on human error.

Final campaign statements for the 1985-86 election season filed with the secretary of state's office show that Floyd and Fiola raised more than $800,000.

Fiola reported raising a total of about $285,000, including $228,000 pumped into his campaign by the Nolan-controlled Assembly Republican Political Action Committee and three GOP assemblymen.

Floyd reported raising $536,000 and spending $486,000 in 1985 and 1986. Floyd noted this week that his campaign treasury was nearly depleted last October when the Republicans launched their last-minute assault against him. He estimated that he raised about $160,000 for his own last-minute campaign to defeat Fiola.

Meantime, the war of words between Floyd and Nolan has taken on an increasingly bitter tone and the controversy over the letter has armed Floyd with a major issue for the 1988 election.

Floyd, in an interview this week, contended that the Assembly Republicans "defiled the White House. They made light of Nancy's 'say no to drugs' thing."

Issue Brushed Aside

Anne S. Richards, Nolan's press secretary, brushed aside the importance of the letter as a campaign issue. Fiola also attacked Floyd as a supporter of California Chief Justice Rose Bird and accused him of being generally soft on crime. Richards said: "We got so much stuff on Floyd that we had at least three months worth of issues" even after the campaign was over.

The cigar-chomping Floyd, 56, is known for his machine-gun rhetoric which has continued without a cease-fire since the Nov. 4 election. Now, Floyd promises to raise $1 million for candidates he plans to recruit in 1988 to oppose Nolan and several of his top legislative lieutenants who oversaw the Fiola campaign. Nolan and the others are in districts regarded as safe Republican seats.

In turn, Richards said her boss is scouting for candidates to run next year against Floyd, whom Republicans regard as vulnerable because of his generally liberal record while representing a conservative-leaning district.

Richards said that Nolan again plans to target Floyd for defeat. "We did the best we could with the resources we had," Richards said, "and sometimes it takes a couple of runs at the hill before you're able to defeat someone."

But Fiola, 34, now a real estate appraiser for Fidelity Federal Savings, says he has no plans for a repeat campaign against Floyd.

Fiola, in an interview on Tuesday, said that he received a presidential endorsement letter when he ran for Congress in 1984 and was defeated. He said he assumed his endorsement letter last fall had been had been cleared by the White House as was the 1984 letter.

Fiola said he "was a little surprised that maybe it wasn't."

Computer Caging Mailer

Fiola said he does not know who wrote the letter but said that Computer Caging Inc. prepared all of his campaign mail. Computer Caging is a Sacramento-based direct-mail business principally owned by state Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora).

"Everything we did came out of Computer Caging," Fiola said. His campaign reported paying Computer Caging $42,156 for management and consulting services.

In a Dec. 17 letter to Nolan, White House Counsel Peter J. Wallison singled out Tim Macy, president of Computer Caging, and two Nolan aides as among those responsible for preparing the so-called presidential endorsement letters.

Fiola's report shows that his campaign was heavily bankrolled by the Assembly Republican Political Action Committee, which loaned his election drive $198,000, a debt that has been forgiven. Other loans of $10,000 each were given him by GOP Assemblymen Dennis Brown of Signal Hill, John Lewis of Orange and Gil Ferguson of Newport Beach.

Doctors Contributed

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