The state Democratic Party and lawmakers on the state and national levels are pouring money into the primary campaign of Robert Epple, one of three contenders for the party's nomination in the 63rd Assembly District.
Campaign spending reports filed last week show that the state party has paid for about $100,000 worth of political mailers on Epple's behalf. More than a dozen Democratic assemblymen have contributed to Epple, as have one state senator and three California congressmen.
Epple listed more than $300,000 in total contributions and about $155,000 in expenditures by his own campaign staff.
Epple's most generous Assembly supporters were Majority Leader Tom Hannigan of Fairfield and Assemblyman Richard Katz of Panorama City, both members of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's inner circle. Hannigan gave Epple $30,000. Katz gave him $10,000 and paid for consulting services worth another $10,000.
The sources of contributions to Epple and his chief opponent, Peter Ohanesian of Downey, clearly show the battle lines. Epple's support comes from Brown's allies and Ohanesian's from the so-called "Gang of Five," a group of Democratic legislators who are trying to break Brown's control of the Assembly.
Ohanesian, who listed $165,000 in contributions and $172,000 in expenditures, received about $70,000 from Assemblyman Charles Calderon of Montebello, a Gang of Five member and longtime friend of Ohanesian's.
The third primary candidate, Humberto Lujan of Norwalk, is spending less $1,000 in the campaign.