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Riordan Set to Back Feinstein in Senate Race


In a major boost for her campaign, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is expected to receive an endorsement today from Republican mayor Richard Riordan.

Feinstein's campaign issued a statement Saturday afternoon forecasting a "major endorsement" today at 11:30 a.m. in Studio City. Riordan's office declined to comment Saturday but Feinstein supporters confirmed the announcement.

"He's a Republican, probably next to the governor, the most prominent Republican in the state of California," said one Feinstein backer, who asked not to be identified. "It sends a signal that very important Republicans, who don't often do this, are looking at this race in a very thoughtful way and saying this city and this state need Dianne Feinstein."

Riordan joins a long list of prominent GOP officials who have turned their backs on GOP nominee Mike Huffington and announced their support for the Democratic incumbent, most of whom opposed her last campaign in 1992.

The list includes former baseball commissioner and 1984 Olympics chief Peter V. Ueberroth and Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block.

On Monday, Feinstein has also scheduled a news conference to announce endorsements from the heads of five of the nation's top defense firms--Northrop, Douglas Aircraft, Rockwell, TRW and Hughes.

Huffington's campaign was sharply critical of Riordan's decision, comparing it to Republican New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's endorsement of Democratic Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.

"Dick Riordan and Rudy Giuliani can go start their own party because they clearly don't belong in the GOP," said spokeswoman Jennifer Grossman. "Riordan's Republican loyalties run only skin-deep. He has a long history of donating huge amounts of money to candidates of both parties to ensure he has political access after Election Day. This time, he's picked the wrong horse. He hopes Feinstein will feed him pork from Washington, but he'll be stuck lobbying a retired Mrs. Feinstein out of San Francisco."

The Riordan endorsement is particularly helpful to Feinstein because her toughest battle is in Southern California. Polls show Feinstein holds a thin lead in the Senate race statewide, but most of her support is in the north where she is better known as the former mayor of San Francisco.

Feinstein and Riordan have worked closely together this year on gaining disaster aid for the fires and the earthquake that devastated parts of the city. Riordan also went to Washington this year to help lobby for the crime bill and the assault weapons ban that Feinstein authored.

When the crime bill narrowly passed, Riordan appeared with Feinstein to announce how much money and additional police might be generated for the city. Huffington officials were critical of Riordan for making the appearance.

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