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California and the West | CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / U.S.
SENATE

Feinstein Holds Big Lead in Fund-Raising

October 17, 2000|GREG KRIKORIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Though neither side is setting any fund-raising records, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's campaign has four times as much cash on hand as her Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Campbell, according to Federal Election Commission reports released Monday.

With three weeks to go before the election, election commission reports show that Feinstein raised almost $1.3 million and spent nearly $1.1 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, the most recent reporting period. But with plenty of money already on hand, that left Feinstein with $3.3 million as of the end of September.

Her opponent, trailing significantly in a recent poll, reported only $800,000 in cash on hand after raising almost $800,000 but spending more than $1.1 million.

With financial resources precious, the San Jose congressman launched a new television ad campaign that will cost an estimated $400,000, most of it provided by the National Republican Committee, according to Campbell's senior campaign strategist Sean Walsh.

In the ad, which began airing Sunday, Campbell criticizes the nation's anti-drug policies and Feinstein for supporting them.

"Dianne Feinstein is in denial about my record on drug policy, just like drug users deny they have a habit," Campbell says in the 30-second spot. "Dianne can't admit the war on drugs has failed."

Criticizing her vote in favor of American anti-drug efforts in Colombia, Campbell says "everyone wants the drug dealers in jail" but more needs to be done to rehabilitate addicts.

"Drugs are a health problem," Campbell says in the ad. "Treat the victims of drugs at public health clinics under doctor's supervision. After all, what would you want for your children?"

Campbell's ad reflects his long-standing position that the nation should seek new methods of fighting drugs. His campaign hopes that argument will resonate with voters who will decide the fate of Proposition 36, an initiative that would send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment rather than jail or prison.

Feinstein, who opposes the initiative as fiercely as Campbell supports it, dismissed his new ad campaign.

"The drug war does not lend itself to a 30-second sound bite," Feinstein said in an interview Monday. "It is a very complicated thing."

She added: "I believe we have to fight drugs on both the demand and the supply side. We have never really done that very well."

The drug issue is almost certain to be raised during one or both debates scheduled between Feinstein and Campbell in Los Angeles a week from today and Oct. 27 in San Francisco.

While Feinstein has continued to recover from surgery to repair a knee injury, Campbell has been campaigning throughout the state. A recent Field Poll showed him trailing Feinstein by 20 points. And the poll found that fewer California voters were paying attention to the Feinstein-Campbell contest than to the New York Senate race involving First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The lack of attention has affected fund-raising efforts on both sides. In all, Feinstein has raised about $9 million--almost twice as much as Campbell.

Six years ago, Feinstein spent $14 million in narrowly defeating Michael Huffington, a Republican congressman from Santa Barbara. The multimillionaire Huffington spent close to $30 million, almost all of it his own money, in what was the most expensive Senate race in history.

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