WASHINGTON — Republican congressional candidate Jim Salomon of Beverly Hills appears well positioned for at least a victory of sorts Nov. 6: He could be one of the few challengers nationwide to outspend an incumbent lawmaker.
That may be small consolation, however. His opponent, Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles), remains heavily favored to retain the 23rd Congressional District seat he has held since 1977. And the veteran lawmaker's followers insist that Salomon's dollars haven't made a dent.
"We see no evidence of significant community support for his candidacy," Craig Miller, Beilenson's campaign consultant, said last week. "We expect a strong reelection victory."
In his campaign report filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month, Salomon reported that he has raised $148,111 this year, bringing his two-year total to $259,835. Beilenson reported raising $91,870 as of Sept. 30. His two-year figure is $186,799.
Salomon, however, reported that he had only $18,855 on hand Sept. 30. Beilenson, who has done little campaigning as Congress remains here grappling with the budget, had $144,979 still unspent.
Moreover, Salomon appears likely to fall far short of his ambitious fund-raising goal of $750,000.
"I'm not disappointed," Salomon insisted. "I feel we'll be at least over $500,000 by Election Day. . . . We're not in the cushion zone, but we're in the solid campaign zone."
All but $5,000 of Salomon's funds raised this year have been contributed by individuals, including many professionals from the affluent Westside. The rest came from political action committees.
All of Beilenson's money was contributed by individuals; he is one of the few House members who does not accept any PAC money.
Salomon has used much of his money for cable television ads that charge Beilenson with opposing Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits; voting against tougher penalties for adults who sell drugs to children; opposing Israel; and neglecting traffic and pollution problems back home. Beilenson denies these assertions.
Salomon, who has been campaigning full time for the past two years, contends that Beilenson's "strategy is to do everything he can to make this into a non-campaign."
But Miller said Beilenson's busy legislative agenda has prevented him from stumping. The lawmaker was even unable to get away for his sole campaign fund-raiser, held several weeks ago at a private residence in Beverly Hills, his consultant said.
Miller vowed that Beilenson will embark on a vigorous public schedule when Congress adjourns and the legislator returns to the district, which stretches from Beverly Hills to Malibu and over the Santa Monica Mountains into the West San Fernando Valley.
In addition, Beilenson will send election mailings that will cite his refusal to take PAC money and his support for public financing of political campaigns, environmental and consumer protection and raising income taxes on those who earn more than $200,000 a year to close the federal budget deficit, Miller said.
Beilenson has renounced campaign fund raising in non-election years and said he raised money last year only because he decided that Salomon "seems to be serious about this campaign."
Common Cause, the citizens' lobby, reported recently that House incumbents nationwide had 12 times as much campaign money as their challengers. Salomon was one of the few challengers who had raised more than an incumbent through the first half of this year.
But he also outspent Beilenson in the 1988 general election, when the incumbent did virtually no campaigning. Beilenson won with 63.5% of the vote that year.