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Rivals for Senate, Governor Battle Across State

November 07, 1994|CATHLEEN DECKER | TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Campaigning across the length of California, the four major candidates for U.S. Senate and governor readied their final pitches to California voters Sunday, each of them expressing a politician's confidence in his or her own chances for election 48 hours hence.

Gubernatorial candidates Kathleen Brown and Pete Wilson continued their angry back-and-forth about illegal immigration, Proposition 187 and crime, issues that have dominated their campaign in recent weeks.

"I should be dead. I oppose the death penalty. I'm Jerry Brown's sister. I am a woman. I'm running against an incumbent. I'm being outspent by 3 to 1, and I have (opposed) an initiative that was going to win by 66% of the vote up until two weeks ago and even now it's on the edge," an upbeat Brown told reporters. "I should be dead. I don't feel dead for some reason. I feel really great, so we'll see."

Wilson was equally confident, telling GOP volunteers in Monrovia that they should not be swayed by his lead in the polls but should work hard until Election Day.

"Run up the score," he told them.

Senate candidates Dianne Feinstein, the incumbent Democrat, and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Huffington kept a somewhat slower pace but the heat of their rhetoric was nonetheless intense. Feinstein reminded voters of her work on the federal crime bill and the ban on military assault rifles; Huffington spoke in favor of the initiative on the California ballot that would imprison for 25 years to life those who commit three felonies.

Huffington, in Monrovia, called Feinstein and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer the "Thelma and Louise" of politics.

"And you remember what happened at the end of the movie," he said, alluding to the characters' demise off the end of a cliff. "We're going to send Dianne Feinstein home in two days to the city by the bay."

For her part, Feinstein was more confident than she has been in recent weeks and exhorted her followers to work hard through Election Day.

"If we let these races be bought, if we let these people who have huge amounts of money go on and run slanderous ads and you can't do anything about it . . . the American political process will be rent asunder," Feinstein said in Pasadena.

Brown, whose campaign aides said they were convinced that the treasurer is making up ground, campaigned vigorously, her speeches firm and feisty despite a weekend spent explaining her campaign's financial troubles.

She made campaign stops in San Diego, Sacramento and in Los Angeles, where Brown spoke at a rally against Proposition 187, which would deny public education and non-emergency state services to illegal immigrants. She said the election presented a distinction between "politicians who use issues just to hold onto power and politicians who use power to address the issues of the day."

Brown characterized Wilson as one who "would use our fears and our anger and our frustration just to hold onto power."

"It has happened before," she said to a standing ovation at the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church. "We must not let it happen again."

Speaking to reporters later, Brown dismissed the open worries of many Democrats that her campaign's decision to air virtually no television advertisements on the final weekend before the election would be harmful to her and other party candidates.

Brown aides said Saturday that they were unable to air ads this weekend because they had essentially run out of money last week. They still planned to run two anti-Wilson immigration ads beginning today.

Brown said she had decided instead to put her campaign money into a field operation that could persuade voters to turn out on Tuesday.

Asked if she felt that her staff had mismanaged the finances--as White House officials had grumbled Saturday during the President's visit to California--she said, "I think you evaluate all of that afterward."

But Brown defended her campaign against accusations that it had violated the first rule of financing--make sure there is money for the end of the campaign.

"It's also been a rule of politics for the last decade and a half that you don't put one dime into the field," she said. "It's a rule of politics that you spend it all on TV. I have not done that. I have been unconventional in a whole variety of ways in this campaign."

Wilson spent the day with other GOP candidates at a series of events that exuded Americana, from the huge American flag and Marine Corps hymn that greeted him in Riverside to the Little Leaguers with caramel popcorn and hot dogs in Monrovia.

At the Riverside VFW post, Wilson took credit for building the state's second veterans' home in Barstow and for making the Department of Veteran Affairs a Cabinet-level agency. He criticized the Clinton Administration for cutting military spending and wove that together with a subject that has drawn his focus all year: crime.

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