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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS | ELECTIONS

Mikels and McGrath Get Some Key Late Support

L.A. mayor comes out against McClintock in the Senate race, and Democrats boost funds for Sharkey's opponent in the Assembly contest.

March 02, 2000|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Supervisor Judy Mikels' state Senate campaign against Assemblyman Tom McClintock got two big boosts Wednesday, when Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan endorsed her and incumbent Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) chipped in another $26,000 to defeat McClintock, a longtime rival.

In a second legislative race, Somis teacher Roz McGrath's contributions from Assembly Democratic leaders and Assembly members grew to $45,000 with a spate of late contributions in a 37th Assembly District primary race against Port Hueneme Councilman Jon Sharkey.

Mikels' uphill campaign against McClintock (R-Northridge) has shifted into a higher gear over the last six weeks, raising $112,000, including more than $50,000 from Wright, who is retiring from the sprawling 19th District because of term limits.

The district includes most of Ventura County and parts of the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

Wright's money alone has paid for four Mikels mailers over the last 10 days. And Wright said she might give even more before the election Tuesday.

"I believe Judy Mikels is the better candidate for this district," Wright said. "McClintock lives in Sacramento and is out of touch."

Riordan, in a prepared statement, said that Mikels is "a common-sense leader" who as past president of the Southern California Assn. of Governments has tried to solve regional problems such as crime and traffic congestion.

"She's a problem solver," the mayor said.

McClintock, leading in fund-raising and in voter-opinion polls, said he is not surprised to see two old adversaries weigh in for his opponent.

McClintock has opposed Wright on a host of issues since both were elected to the Assembly in the early 1980s. And his position on the San Fernando Valley's secession from Los Angeles has pitted him against the mayor.

"Riordan has been the leading opponent of Valley independence, and I've been one of its strongest supporters," said McClintock, who co-wrote a bill that allowed the Valley to pursue secession. "Riordan has fought us every step of the way, although it's voter dissatisfaction with [City Hall] that animates the entire effort for independence."

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McClintock, who has represented much of the 19th District as an assemblyman, said he thinks Mikels' rush of late money and campaign mailers has done little to erode his advantage both in fund-raising and voter acceptance.

McClintock had $183,000 in the bank Feb. 24, compared with Mikels' $57,000. And since that last filing deadline, he has received at least $13,000 in late contributions--including $5,000 from the National Rifle Assn. Victory Fund and $5,000 from the Viejas Indian Reservation.

"We polled again last weekend," he said. "And we're maintaining the 30-point-plus lead that we've had throughout this race."

Mikels has said that her own poll in December showed McClintock with about a 20-point lead in name recognition. But since then, she said, she has closed the gap.

In a second contested primary, Democrats McGrath and Sharkey disagree on the significance of McGrath's late support from party leaders in Sacramento.

McGrath, who narrowly lost to Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) in 1998, said she is proud of the confidence that Assembly leaders have in her but is also bolstered by local contributions.

She has collected $21,600 in late contributions from Assembly leaders, but she said she has also collected $21,000 from perhaps 200 local supporters this year.

"We'll be raising money from them all until March 7," she said.

Sharkey said the flood of Sacramento money only points up the split in the Democratic primary. He has the endorsement of many local Democrat leaders, he said, while she relies on out-of-county assistance.

"I've got something like 140 contributors, virtually all of whom are from Ventura County, while Roz's funding has come from half a dozen people in Sacramento. I think it's clear if you look at the dozens of endorsements I have from local officials and community activities, I'm the guy who is speaking for the people in Ventura County."

He also criticized McGrath for failing to show up for candidate forums.

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But she said she has appeared at at least a dozen forums where Sharkey has not been present and did not attend some others because she was teaching her kindergarten class.

"I've been to countless meetings," she said. "So maybe he wasn't invited to some of the same things."

McGrath and Sharkey both said they will attend a forum in Oxnard on Friday evening sponsored by the NAACP. That would be their first joint appearance since January.

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