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Poll Shows McCarthy Is Far Ahead of Press

November 25, 1987|JOHN BALZAR | Times Political Writer

His 22-foot motor home, lumbering up the Coast Highway from San Diego to Orange County and on to Los Angeles Tuesday, said: Tourist.

But a new statewide poll in his briefcase called Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy the runaway favorite of California Democrats to be their 1988 nominee for the U.S. Senate.

A statewide Field Poll released Tuesday showed McCarthy leading his lone Democratic challenger, former television news commentator Bill Press, by a crushing 70% to 11% margin with 19% undecided.

In a match-up against Republican incumbent Sen. Pete Wilson, McCarthy trailed 38% to 47%. This is virtually unchanged since a measurement in August but closer than the 31% to 51% separation last January.

'People Campaign'

The poll came as McCarthy concluded the second of a two-day motor home swing through nine cities, part of his pledge to "go on the road" and conduct a people campaign, not just a television campaign.

McCarthy's day began in San Diego at the College of Retailing, an employee training school founded by Sol Price, of the Price Club chain of membership warehouse stores.

McCarthy attended a class briefly and heard testimonials from student after student how the jobs-training program gave them ambition, pride, self-confidence and hope.

A student named Eileen explained, "We're all here for the same thing, and that's to become something."

McCarthy said Wilson voted "no" the only time a major child-care bill came before the Senate--a $45-million, three-year package in 1984.

From there McCarthy and his caravan drove up the coast to an adult day-care center in Garden Grove, a child-care center in Santa Monica and a food-raising event in East Los Angeles. At each stop, he repeated his general criticism that Wilson had ignored these constituencies in votes and in his heart.

Doing Triple Duty

During both days of his campaign swing, McCarthy was not just a candidate and lieutenant governor of California, but also acting governor, since Gov. George Deukmejian was out of the state at a governor's conference in New Mexico.

This meant that the emergency powers of the governor rested in McCarthy's lap when two major quakes shimmied the Imperial Valley. The second, at 5:16 a.m. Tuesday, awoke McCarthy at his high-rise hotel in San Diego. Throughout the day, McCarthy was briefed on damage but said there was no call for him to act.

A spokesman for Democratic challenger Press dismissed the new poll results as a measure only of public recognition of candidate names. "We're just getting started," said campaign manager David Calef. "When people hear about Bill, they vote for him."

WILSON vs. McCARTHY

Results of previous Field Polls this year:

Jan. Aug. Nov. Wilson 53 47 47 McCarthy 31 37 38

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