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ELECTIONS: LEGISLATURE : Hayden Lags in Fund Raising, but It's Illusory : Politics: He has only $4,705 on hand but claims pledges of $100,000. Rivals Rosenthal and O'Neill are also proving ability to attract money.


AREA — Assemblyman Tom Hayden hasn't raised much money for his state Senate bid yet, but he does have backing and a $2,000 check from his famous ex-wife, Jane Fonda.

With $4,705 in the bank as of March 17, Hayden badly trailed his two Democratic primary opponents in the first official peek at who is raising how much money from whom--which may say more about strategy than viability.

Campaign financial disclosure statements, which had to be postmarked by Monday, show state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal with $56,000 on hand after raising $11,915 from Jan. 1 to March 17. Rosenthal, who has a major fund-raiser with more than 100 sponsors planned for April 9, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Businesswoman Catherine O'Neill showed her fund-raising mettle by gathering $39,006. She has already run cable TV television ads promoting her candidacy.

O'Neill, who lent her campaign $8,000 and wound up with $38,304 on hand, said the message from this first monthlong fund-raising period is that she is a serious candidate.

"I'm running for office," said O'Neill, who is trying for a political comeback 20 years after narrowly losing a state Senate race on the Westside.

Hayden, O'Neill and Rosenthal are competing for the Democratic nomination in the June 2 primary in a newly drawn Senate district that includes most of the Westside north of the Santa Monica Freeway and much of the western San Fernando Valley. The nomination virtually assures election in November; no Republicans are even bothering to run in the heavily Democratic district.

Hayden also lent his campaign $15,000 and raised $6,200, but his campaign manager, Duane Peterson, said the meager balance is illusory because of pledges of more than $100,000. Then there is Hayden's personal wealth.

"I've never heard of an underfunded Hayden campaign," Peterson said.

Peterson said the campaign has cranked up the grass-roots phone bank that Hayden has used effectively in the past to raise money for environmental initiatives such as 1990's "Big Green." And Hayden is tapping his show business resources too.

"I view this as a cause," Hayden said. "I'm calling all over the district for money and support."

What is expected to be a bloody, expensive primary battle for the new 23rd Senate District has gotten off to a deceptively slow start.

Strategy may also explain the relatively empty campaign coffers of Hayden and Rosenthal, both of whom have shown the ability to raise large sums of money but may not want to tip their hands by an early show of firepower. That could provide even more fodder to criticize them as well-heeled incumbents in an election year in which incumbency seems to be a mixed blessing.

Noting that spending does not always equal winning, O'Neill said she must raise about $200,000 to seriously challenge her two opponents with an anti-incumbency message.

Campaign contributions will remain the candidates' secret until May 21, less than two weeks from the primary, when the next disclosure forms are due.

In the contested Republican primary for the 41st Assembly District, former Santa Monica City Councilwoman Christine Reed is out in front in terms of money. She has taken in $51,594 and has $25,986 in the bank.

Attorney Scott Meehan reported raising $4,750. He had a cash balance of $2,461 and $10,000 in pledges. Former Santa Monica Community College Board of Trustees member Fred Beteta received contributions of $2,945 and has $1,243 in the bank. Agoura Hills accounting professor Paul Foote has $705 on hand after bringing in $1,525 for the three-month period. A disclosure statement for USC student and businessman Stefan (Stu) Stitch had not been received earlier this week, and he could not be reached for comment.

Meehan and Foote have taken aim at Reed as a political insider with access to money. In a statement, Meehan accused Reed of seeking money from special interests, which he has vowed not to accept. Reed's campaign statement, however, shows contributions from only two political action committees.

Reed, in turn, criticized Democratic Assemblyman Terry Friedman's superior fund-raising ability as evidence he has been "milking all the lobbyists for money."

Friedman, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, has raised $27,500, much of it from political action committees.

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