Despite new limits on campaign contributions, state Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino) and Assemblyman Charles Bader (R-Pomona) are well on their way toward raising $1 million each for their election showdown this fall.
Latest campaign reports, which were due July 31, show that the two men have collected nearly $500,000 so far this year.
The election will determine whether Ayala, a former Chino mayor who has been in the Senate for 16 years, will retain his seat or be replaced by Bader, a former Pomona mayor who is completing his fourth term in the Assembly.
Bader said he expects to net $100,000 from a barbecue fund-raiser at the Guasti Mansion in Guasti on Tuesday night that featured Sen. Pete Wilson, the Republican gubernatorial nominee. That $100,000 will enlarge a campaign treasury already boasting more than $380,000.
Bader said his campaign is "pretty much on track" toward his goal of raising $1 million for the Nov. 6 election.
Ayala, who raised $263,000 in the first six months of this year, said he also expects to run a campaign that will cost $1 million, and he will raise more if Bader goes higher. "We're going to match him," Ayala said.
The Ayala-Bader contest may be the only state legislative election in the San Gabriel Valley this fall in which opponents are financially equal.
Campaign statements filed with state and county election officials show a wide disparity in nearly every other state legislative race, with incumbents holding an overwhelming monetary advantage. The eight legislators who are running for reelection in San Gabriel Valley districts had banked a total of more than $800,000 for their campaigns by June 30, while their opponents had less than $60,000.
Only in the 42nd Assembly District, where South Pasadena Mayor Evelyn Fierro, a Democrat, is seeking to unseat Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), is there anything approaching financial equality.
Mountjoy had more than $52,000 in the bank at the end of June, according to his most recent campaign statement, while Fierro had more than $42,000. But much of Fierro's money was her own, not raised from supporters. She loaned $31,000 to her campaign.
Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield), whose district includes part of Pasadena, begins his reelection campaign with more than $200,000 in the bank, while his Democratic opponent, former Assemblyman Ray Gonzales, starts from scratch after spending more than $50,000 to win the primary.
In the 41st Assembly District, incumbent Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) has more than $150,000 in the bank, compared to less than $8,500 for Democrat Jeanette Mann of Pasadena. Two minor party candidates have indicated they will raise less than $1,000 apiece.
The incumbents have benefited from large contributions from political action committees representing trade groups, corporations, labor unions and other interests.
The National Rifle Assn., for example, gave $4,950 each to Nolan and Bader and $3,950 to Mountjoy. The California Trial Lawyers Assn. gave $4,500 to Ayala and several labor unions gave him more than $3,000 each. Sen. Charles M. Calderon (D-Whittier) received $5,000 contributions from the California Medical Assn., the California Restaurant Assn. and the United Auto Workers union.
Under new campaign financing rules enacted by voters, candidates can receive no more than $1,000 each fiscal year from individuals but up to $5,000 a year from broad-based political action committees. The financing rules were enacted in 1988, but this is the first election in which they fully applied.
In three of the San Gabriel Valley's assembly races, no incumbents are running. But all three districts have lopsided registrations that appear to give one party or the other a strong advantage.
In the heavily Republican 65th Assembly District, now represented by Bader, his former aide, Jim Brulte, spent $169,000 to win the Republican primary and started the general election campaign with about $12,000 in the bank. His Democratic opponent, Bob Erwin, a Chino businessman, had $4,600.
In the 59th Assembly District, which was represented by Calderon until he moved up to the Senate earlier this year, the Democratic nominee, Xavier Becerra, spent $134,000 to win a wide-open primary race, and he began the fall campaign with $6,200 in cash. He will face Republican Leland Lieberg and Libertarian Steven Pencall in the November election in a district that is strongly Democratic and Latino.
Diamond Bar Councilman Paul V. Horcher loaned his own campaign nearly $200,000 as he narrowly won the Republican primary in the 52nd Assembly District June 5. He had $10,000 left for the fall campaign at the end of June, but that was still twice as much as Gary Neely, his Democratic opponent.
Neely's major financial support has come from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which gave him $5,000.