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Epple Leading Area Candidates in Raising Cash : Elections: The Cerritos Democrat has brought in more than $450,000 to finance his bid for another Assembly term. The biggest spender so far is state Sen. Robert G. Beverly.


SOUTHEAST AREA — With the general elections just days away, candidates are going for broke--pleading with supporters for that one last dollar, courting political action committees and, when all else fails, borrowing from friends and family.

According to recent campaign disclosure statements filed with the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office, Assemblyman Bob Epple has raised more in the past 3 1/2 months than any other candidate running for state office in Southeast Los Angeles County. The biggest spender is state Sen. Robert G. Beverly.

Epple, a Cerritos Democrat facing a tough challenge from a political newcomer, received $326,950 and spent $162,378 between July 1 and Oct. 17. And in the week since Oct. 17, Epple raised $132,447, half from the Democratic Party and the rest from big business and from political action committees, including the tobacco industry and groups representing the Highway Patrol and firefighters.

In fund raising, Epple leads the field of 19 candidates running in seven Assembly and three state Senate races in the Long Beach area.

Epple, who spent $1.2 million in his 1988 campaign, said that he expects to spend at least $500,000 this time because the Republican Party wants his seat and has said it will spend $750,000 to get it. Since January, his opponent in the 56th Assembly District, Phillip D. Hawkins, has spent $211,000.

Epple also pointed out that 50% of the district is new territory, "and it did require an investment to establish my identity to people."

Beverly faces a similar problem in his race, where 70% of the district is new. In the last 3 1/2 months, he has spent $209,100 trying to introduce himself to district voters. Like Epple, a majority of Beverly's contributions come from business and political action committees.

The committees, representing such diverse groups as dentists, teachers, trash haulers, lawyers and apartment owners, have played a big role in the campaigns of most incumbent legislators. Aside from Epple and Beverly, Assemblymen Gerald N. Felando, Paul V. Horcher, Willard H. Murray Jr. and state Sen. Frank Hill received about 90% of their contributions from businesses and PACs. The statements show that the insurance and real estate industries, educators, doctors and labor have been among the largest contributors.

Challengers say the large contributions from PACs put them at an unfair disadvantage and leave legislators beholden to their donors--a charge incumbents routinely dismiss.

"If you get a lot of money from a specific type of PAC, let's say trial lawyers or forensic physicians, there is a strong incentive for you not to change the system," said Richard Vandenberg, financial director for Hawkins. "You can't vote against 90% of your donors. If you do, you won't get the money next time."

But Epple said: "It's not purchasing votes. I vote against groups I take money from. Sometimes I do it the day after I receive the check."

Hawkins has received thousands of dollars from PACs. Although most of his contributions come from individuals, his largest contributor was the Allied Business PAC, a group of businessmen from the religious right. As of Oct. 17, the group had given him $20,000 and lent him an additional $20,000.

Times staff writer Gerald Faris contributed to this story.

Campaign Contributions

The race for money to fund political campaigns is in full stride and, as usual, incumbents have the advantage. The chart shows how much candidates in the Southeast and Long Beach areas raised and spent from July 1 to Oct. 17. The candidates' reports indicate that political action committees still play a big role in the campaigns.


District Candidate Contributions Expenses 50 Martha M. Escutia (D) $39,344 $28,253 Gladys O. Miller (R) $1,304 $ 1,254 52 Willard H. Murray Jr. (D)* $17,850 $8,084 54 Gerald N. Felando (R)* $85,077 $44,886 Betty Karnette (D) $47,637 $37,365 55 Shannon Anderson (L) ** ** Juanita McDonald (D) $68,348 $22,493 56 Phillip D. Hawkins (R) $215,617 $119,224 Bob Epple (D)* $326,950 $162,378 58 Ken Gow (R) ** ** Grace M. Napolitano (D) $41,744 $22,493 60 Paul V. Horcher (R)* $58,793 $77,429 Stan Caress (D) $1,595 $1,567

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