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Brown, Garamendi Marshal Funds for Governor's Race


SACRAMENTO — For the second time in two months, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and Treasurer Kathleen Brown have sent out fund-raising pitches as each gathers support for a 1994 gubernatorial campaign.

With the election more than a year off, neither Brown nor Garamendi is a declared candidate for governor. But in their pleas to campaign contributors, they make no secret of their desires to run for the state's highest office.

Brown took a significant lead in the money war by raising $2 million by the end of last year, nearly all of it in December. Now she is portraying herself as the front-runner, implying that contributors should quickly get on board.

Garamendi ended 1992 with a campaign debt of $341,000 but has raised money this year in anticipation of next year's campaign. In his effort to catch up, Garamendi is citing his policy stand on health insurance and a recent poll that suggests he is running closer to Brown.

Brown sent a one-sentence "FYI" note to potential donors last month: "Thought you might be interested in the attached." The "attached" was a Sacramento Bee article about a Field Poll taken in February showing her leading Garamendi by 18 points in a matchup for the Democratic nomination.

The mailer was not an invitation to a fund-raising event. It was, however, signed by Brown's campaign finance director, Ann Hollister.

In her latest pitch, Brown invites people to a $500-a-ticket reception in Sacramento. The mailer also is prospecting for sponsors who will give her campaign $5,000.

Garamendi's latest pitch includes a line about a Los Angeles Times poll taken in March, saying voters "showed a remarkable shift away from the early leader." The Times poll showed Garamendi trailing Brown by seven points.

The polling snapshots mean little this early in the race. At this point, few voters are focusing on an election more than a year away.

"Kathleen has adopted a strategy of trying to intimidate all comers out of the governor's race," an aide to Garamendi said. "In fact, this race is up for grabs."

Garamendi is inviting his donors to his annual "Basque Barbecue." The invitation looks like a greeting card. Garamendi is pictured on the cover dressed in denim and leaning on a fence at his ranch. He's flanked by his wife, children, horse and dog. The card also has pictures of the Garamendi family dating back 20 years.

The charge for the barbecue is $35 per person. It is aimed at finding people who will work in his campaign organization.

In addition, Garamendi hopes to raise more at a $1,000-a-ticket reception set for Monday in New York. Among the sponsors is former Democratic Rep. Tony Coehlo, who resigned in 1989 from his San Joaquin Valley congressional seat. Coehlo now is managing director of a Wall Street investment banking firm.

In March, Garamendi held a $500-a-ticket affair at Delancey Street, a drug rehabilitation organization in San Francisco. In the invitation to that event, he enclosed copies of New York Times and Los Angeles Times editorials lauding his plan for health insurance.

The amounts raised by the events won't be revealed until campaign finance statements are filed in July.

Garamendi's appeal includes a letter signed by nine supporters who say they encouraged him to stay in the state and "help turn things around."

"He has answered by not accepting an appointment with the Clinton Administration that was recently offered to him," the letter said.

The letter did not identify the job. But a Clinton Administration official said the "language of the letter is untrue." Although Garamendi was in discussions about an appointment to head the Resolution Trust Corp., he withdrew his name before any final decision was made, the Clinton aide said.

"From what I have been told, he was not offered anything," the Clinton Administration source said.

Garamendi chaired Clinton's California campaign last year and has made several trips to Washington this year to testify about insurance matters. He was in Washington again on Wednesday.

"John had discussions about two jobs and chose not to go to Washington," said Darry Sragow, a lawyer with extensive campaign experience. Sragow joined Garamendi's staff two months ago as deputy insurance commissioner for consumer protection and communications. "He very much wants to stay in California, be an effective insurance commissioner and run for governor."

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