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Davis' First Party Aids New England Governor

Campaigns: He hopes to raise $50,000 for his New Hampshire colleague's reelection fight. More party benefits are planned next week.


Gov. Gray Davis opened a week of political festivities Friday night by hosting a fund-raiser for a fellow governor at the gated Brentwood home of one of his longtime backers.

Davis expected to raise $50,000 for Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who was touted as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, and who faces a tough reelection fight this fall.

"I know what you're thinking--New Hampshire," said California Democratic Party strategist Bob Mulholland, alluding to that state's significance for anyone with presidential aspirations. Davis' job as incoming chairman of the Democratic Governors Assn. is to raise money to help other Democrats win governorships across the country, he said. Then again, he noted, "it never hurts to have a phone number of someone in New Hampshire on your Rolodex."

Davis, honorary chairman of the Democratic National Convention, hopes to raise as much as $2.5 million for the party next week.

He is hosting a golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club on Sunday to raise money for Democrats, while his wife, Sharon, will co-host a fund-raiser later in the week put on by EMILY's List, a group that helps finance candidates who favor abortion rights.

The Friday night event was at the home of real estate developer and attorney Doug Ring and his wife, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.

Ring said Davis' campaign committee asked him to host it. Noting that he has never been to Shaheen's state, Ring said he "didn't know one person in the world who cared who was governor in New Hampshire." Davis' aides were simply looking for a place to hold such an event, he said, and were responsible for inviting potential donors.

Davis asked him to open the house, "and we're happy to do so," said Ring, who expected 35 donors at the event.

Among those invited was Bob Abernathy, an industrial property developer who has long backed Davis, giving him $30,000 earlier this year and $30,000 last year. Abernathy has never met Shaheen, and wasn't sure of the connection between Davis and the New Hampshire governor.

"I just thought it would be a nice event," Abernathy said. "Supper is supper. You've got to eat." Perhaps, he noted, if Davis is ever in New Hampshire, "she'll reciprocate."

Unlike California, where there are no limits on the size of campaign contributions, New Hampshire has a cap of $5,000 per contribution if a candidate agrees to voluntary spending limits.

Shaheen has agreed to spending limits of $625,000 in the primary and $625,000 in the general election, said her spokeswoman, Pamela Walsh. That's about the amount that gets spent in an average contested campaign for state Senate in California.

"She shares the same moderate philosophy as he does," said Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio, insisting that there is no connection between the event and any aspirations Davis may have. "She's in a tough race, and he is helping her out."

Maviglio, whom Davis recently hired as his spokesman, has New Hampshire roots himself, having served in its Legislature from 1986 to 1992. Might he want to return to his old haunts some February?

"I sold my snowsuit," Maviglio said.

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