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The Riled Bunch: Bikers Haven't Forgotten Floyd : Politics: The outgoing assemblyman, who was instrumental in the mandatory helmet law, is heckled at a fund-raiser. He brushes off the vocal protest and says he might run for office again.

August 16, 1992|MARK GLADSTONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH AREA/SACRAMENTO — Defeated Carson Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd might be old political news, but to motorcyclists he will always symbolize the hated helmet law.

Forty or so motorcyclists gathered Wednesday night outside an upscale restaurant to heckle the veteran Democratic lawmaker as he headed for a fund-raiser to help erase $215,000 in debts from his losing primary campaign.

Carol Brown, one of the protest organizers, said opponents of Floyd's 1991 mandatory helmet law sought to "give him

indigestion" at his reception. She said her motorcycle group, ABATE (American Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education), also wanted to let Floyd know that they played a role in the campaign of Floyd's successful challenger, Carson Councilwoman Juanita McDonald.

As he entered the Firehouse restaurant for his event, the outspoken Floyd did not miss the chance to take a swipe at the protesters who lined up outside with their shining motorcycles.

"One thing's for certain--when they drive away they're going to wear a helmet and every time they put on the helmet they're going to think about me," he cracked.

He also used the event to let his friends and enemies know that June's primary was not be his last hurrah. Floyd, who said he hopes to obtain $10,000 in donations, announced that he expects to wage another campaign for the Assembly in two years.

In the 55th Assembly District, both Floyd and Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-San Pedro) were outdistanced by McDonald, who faces only minor party opposition in the November general election. Floyd and Elder were forced to run against each other because the lines of their districts were redrawn in the once-a-decade reapportionment and a new, heavily Democratic district was created. It stretches from Wilmington to Compton, encompassing Carson and North Long Beach.

Events such as Floyd's are not unusual, especially during the final weeks of the legislative session, which is due to end Aug. 31. Lobbyists are inundated with invitations to fund-raising events. Indeed, Elder also has been seeking contributions before he leaves office later this year, and McDonald staged a fund-raising event here last week.

In the expensive June primary election, Floyd outspent his opponents, but all three report that they have debts.

Statements recently filed with the secretary of state show that Floyd spent $891,000 in his losing race.

Floyd is chairman of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which oversees legislation on horse racing, liquor and gambling--interests that made major contributions to Floyd's campaign. Among his top contributors were Los Alamitos Racing Assn., $50,000; Santa Anita Turf Club, $22,500; California Commerce Club, $13,500; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., $10,000 and Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-Gardena), $15,000, according to Floyd's reports.

McDonald earlier this month reported that so far this year she raised far less--$192,000--and spent nearly $166,000. McDonald said she and her husband loaned the campaign about $120,000. McDonald also acknowledged receiving volunteer assistance from motorcyclists angry about Floyd's helmet law. The motorcyclists who gathered for the Floyd event said they made a difference in the campaign of McDonald, who said she has agreed to take a second look at the helmet law if, as expected, she is elected in November.

Some of Floyd's critics wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Freedom of Choice, No Helmet Law in California."

McDonald said she had a fund-raiser last week at a Sacramento hotel, in part to become acquainted with the special-interest lobbying corps, known as "the third house." McDonald did not know how much she received.

Through June 30, Elder raised $300,000, according to his reports. Among his major contributors were the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., $66,000 and Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), $22,000. In addition, three Los Angeles lawmakers aligned with Berman's political organization donated a total of $33,000 to Elder. While his statement reflects a balance of $14,000, Elder said his campaign was about $40,000 in debt.

To balance the books, Elder in July sent out invitations to a "no-show dinner" to lobbyists. Instead of having a reception or formal event as is the custom, Elder used a gimmick to attract contributions. He told potential contributors that if they chipped in $500 to his campaign, he would give them a $50 gift certificate made out to the restaurant of their choice.

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