West Hollywood businessman Val Marmillion has outspent six-term Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Tarzana) by a 4-to-1 margin in his bid for an upset in the Democratic primary June 7.
Marmillion reported spending $101,102 as of May 18 and Beilenson $25,265, a strikingly low sum for an incumbent facing a primary challenge. The figures are contained in the candidates' latest campaign reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.
The reports, which cover activity between April 1 and May 18, also disclosed that Beilenson had $30,833 on hand for the homestretch in the 23rd District race, while Marmillion had only $3,684. Marmillion reported raising $42,059 since April 1; Beilenson, $21,430.
Despite his lopsided spending advantage, Marmillion appears unlikely to reach his goal of raising $200,000. The public relations and marketing executive reported amassing $83,786, including dividends and interest, as of May 18; he has also loaned the campaign $21,000.
But Marmillion maintained Wednesday that he will have enough money to convey his message since his mailings are being reinforced with a 250-volunteer, door-to-door effort that is expected to hit most of the 100,000 Democratic households twice before the primary. In addition, he said the campaign has amassed another $10,000 to $15,000 since May 18.
Beilenson also said he has garnered additional funds in the past week in response to a letter to several hundred past contributors. This represents Beilenson's sole 1988 fund-raising activity in a generally low-key campaign.
Beilenson's campaign has yet to contact voters through the mail, the principal method of communication in congressional races. He said he plans to send out a letter and campaign potholders in the next two weeks and to do a second mailing if he raises enough money.
He reported spending $11,750--nearly half his total outlay--for the potholders, which Beilenson said entice recipients to look at the accompanying campaign letter and serve as a durable reminder to go to the polls.
"The gist of the letter is that I've been a good, hard-working congressman," Beilenson said. He added that it cites his role in "preserving and protecting the environment, controlling the nuclear-arms race and protecting consumer rights."
Although his aides, including campaign manager Craig Miller, predict Beilenson will be renominated for a seventh term overwhelmingly, Beilenson denied that he is taking Marmillion lightly.
"We're putting on as real a campaign as possible in the limited amount of time I have to raise money," Beilenson said. "I never take these things for granted."
He said he has returned to the district to meet with various groups five times in recent months.
Marmillion, however, charged that Beilenson's low-budget campaign reflects the incumbent's unwillingness "to come home and be involved with his constituency in a strong way. It's just another example of his being distant from the electorate."
Moreover, he contrasted his major mailing to voters--an unusually detailed 36-page issues brochure sent to 100,000 Democratic households at a cost of $35,000 to $40,000--with Beilenson's potholders.
"We have run an issues campaign and taken the time to write about the issues so people know where we stand in contrast to the old style of politics of sending a potholder to people," Marmillion said.
Beilenson responded: "I am the last congressman anyone would accuse of not speaking out on issues or making himself clear on the issues. It's my willingness to do so which is providing him with the limited number of campaign issues he is using."
Marmillion's largest contribution was $3,000 from the Municipal Elections Commission of Los Angeles, the city's most influential gay and lesbian organization. Marmillion seeks to become the first openly gay candidate elected to a first term in Congress.
The former Louisiana resident had two other political action committee contributions of $250 each, from the Louisiana Power and Light employees PAC and the Committee for Responsible Government representing employees of New Orleans Public Service Inc. Marmillion noted, however, that 90% of his contributions have come from individuals.
Beilenson is one of 11 House members who refuses to accept such single-interest PAC contributions because, he says, they corrupt the legislative process. A total of $19,046 of the $26,346 he received during the reporting period was in contributions of less than $200.