Backed by several large labor groups and the Democratic leadership of the state Senate, Norwalk Councilman Cecil N. Green has received more than $1.43 million for his bid to win Tuesday's runoff for the 33rd state Senate District.
Green's chief opponent, two-term Assemblyman Wayne Grisham (R-Norwalk) has collected about $555,000, according to campaign contribution reports submitted to the secretary of state.
All but a fraction of the contributions for both candidates have come from sources outside the district, which cuts across southeast Los Angeles County and northwest Orange County. Green had received $4,250 and Grisham $2,900 from residents or business people in the district as of April 25, the final deadline for reporting most campaign contributions and expenditures before Tuesday's election.
By law, if a contribution exceeding $1,000 is received in the campaign's final two weeks it must be reported within 24 hours to the secretary of state's office. Therefore, the public can monitor big, last-minute political donations, but how that money is spent does not have to be reported until after the election, in this case, June 30.
Before it's over, state officials say the 33rd District state Senate race may become the most expensive special election in state history.
As of Tuesday, Green had received $1.43 million. His sizable financial edge in the special election is due largely to Senate President Pro-Tem David Roberti, (D-Los Angeles). Roberti-controlled organizations had given Green's campaign $485,713 in cash and $243,798 in non-monetary support such as staff and consulting services through April 25.
Organized labor had contributed about $78,000 to Green, including $20,000 from the California Teachers Assn., $15,000 from the California State Council of Service Employees and $10,000 from the Carpenter's Political Action Committee.
Records show that much of Green's support--more than $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions--has come since March 1. Green's campaign, as of April 25, had spent $772,795 mostly on mailers and campaign staff to win the seat vacated by Sen. Paul Carpenter (D-Cypress), who was elected in November to the state Board of Equalization. Larry Sheingold, Green's Sacramento-based campaign manager, said he expected to spend another $250,000 to $300,000 in the campaign's final two weeks.
To underwrite the campaign's soaring costs, Green will attend a$750-per person party tonight at Chasen's in Beverly Hills and a $50-per-person event Saturday at the Ramada Inn in Norwalk.
Most of Grisham's support has come from apartment owners, builders, real estate interests and Republican legislators. As of Tuesday, Grisham had raised about $550,000 in cash, including $50,000 at a Sacramento cocktail party last week. Grisham also appeared with Gov. George Deukmejian at a private home in Orange County last Friday to raise money for his candidacy, and the lawmaker has planned a cruise tonight on San Francisco Bay for Northern California supporters. Deukmejian will make a personal pitch on Grisham's behalf again Friday night when he attends a $1,000-per-person fund-raiser at the University Club in Los Angeles.
Grisham, 64, had spent about $459,000 as of April 25. But Steve Presson, Grisham's campaign manager in Sacramento, said that spending figure will probably double by election day.
The single largest legislative contributor thus far to Grisham's campaign has been state Sen. Ken Maddy (R-Fresno), who has given $45,000. Grisham also received $10,000 from state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), and $20,000 from the Lincoln Club of Northern California, a group of conservative GOP business people. Grisham has received about $122,000 in loans, cash and in-kind contributions from the Senate Republican Political Action Committee, the political arm of GOP senators.
Democrats Have Big Edge
Both major parties view this race as important because it is the only state Senate race this year. Senate Democrats are trying to increase their controlling margin in the upper house, while Republicans are trying to narrow the gap. The Senate lineup now stands at 23 Democrats, 15 Republicans, 1 independent and 1 vacancy.
In the end, state officials say the race may turn out to be one of the most expensive ever. Last November, state Sen. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose) and his Republican challenger, Tom Legan, spent $2.16 million between them before McCorquodale won reelection in the 12th District. That race, according to a spokesman with the Fair Political Practices Commission, is considered the most expensive general election Senate race to date.
Both Green and Grisham have said during the campaign they are concerned about the amount being spent in the 33rd, and both have indicated they would favor some type of campaign spending reform. But neither has offered a specific proposal.
Green said the amount being spent "is obscene. . . . But the cost of getting elected has just gone through the roof," he said. "We're relying heavily on mail, and stamps are now 22 cents each. It's a fact of life that getting elected is expensive these days."