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Loyal Backers Give Davis a Welcome Cash Infusion

Feelings among those at fund-raiser are mixed on the governor's chances of surviving.

August 22, 2003|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Gray Davis came to the heart of Democratic California for a fund-raiser Thursday night and was bolstered by $1.5 million in checks from some of his most loyal supporters.

Even as his standing with voters continued to sink in recent polls, the Democratic governor's considerable money-raising skills were in full flower. The gathering produced the largest take of political cash in a day since it became apparent that Davis would face the first-ever effort to recall a sitting California governor.

"We're fighting every day from morning till dawn," Davis said, appearing buoyed as he emerged from the closed-door gathering.

About 200 donors showed up for what could be one of the governor's final fund-raisers in San Francisco. Several who attended said privately that they doubted that Davis could save his political career. Others held out some hope. One came with by far the largest single donation Davis had received since the recall movement took hold.

"I have in my pocket a check for $1.023 million," said Jim Kellogg, head of the United Assn., a union that represents 30,000 plumbers in California and has been one of the governor's most stalwart supporters.

Kellogg, a Davis appointee to the California Fish and Game Commission, explained his union's support of Davis by saying he "has done more for organized labor than any governor in history of this state."

"If he loses, he'll know that the United Assn. was with him all the way," Kellogg said. "If he wins, he'll know the UA was with him."

Others went to the event out of obligation.

"There was a feeling that we had to be there," a longtime Davis backer said, speaking on condition that he not be identified.

The donor, who has business before the state, called his contribution "an insurance policy," taken out on the chance that Davis survives.

At least for now, Davis' campaign is focused on persuading the electorate to vote against the recall, the first question voters will face on the Oct. 7 ballot. If a majority of voters fails to say no to the recall, Davis will be ousted and replaced by whichever of the 135 candidates on the second part of the ballot garners the most votes.

In the course of raising more than $70 million during his first term, Davis became known as much for his ability to persuade donors to write five- and six-figure checks as he was for any policy initiative. He contended he needed the money to fend off challenges from wealthy Republicans.

He spent nearly all the money he raised in the 2002 campaign, narrowly winning reelection.

Davis ended the first half of 2003 with a relatively paltry $881,216 in the bank. He since has added to that sum, raising $2 million in the first 20 days of August, plus the roughly $1.5 million he raised Thursday.

He needs far more. His aides had set a goal of $15 million to fight the recall.

Organized labor remains the governor's largest contributor. But its potential donations have yet to materialize. At a national AFL-CIO convention in Chicago earlier this month, Davis requested $10 million. Not counting Thursday's donation from the plumbers, Davis has received $1.63 million from organized labor out the $4 million he has raised so far this year.

San Francisco attorney Jeremiah Hallisey, a Davis appointee to the California Transportation Commission who took the lead in organizing Thursday's event, declared it a success.

The event raised $500,000 in addition to the $1 million from the United Assn., Hallisey said. "Not bad considering we had eight days to put it together."


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Contributions race


These contributions were reported by major candidates on the recall ballot who have received sums of at least $100,000 to finance their gubernatorial campaigns.*

Cruz Bustamante

Total reported: $204,700 from 17 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: $25,200 from four contributions

* The Operating Engineers Local No. 3, a statewide political action committeee, contributed $21,200.**


Arianna Huffington

Total reported: $160,500 from 40 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: $10,000 from 10 contributions

* Entertainer Barbra Streisand contributed $1,000.


Tom McClintock

Total reported: $306,000 from 65 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: $9,000 from five contributions


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Total reported: $2,289,300 from 20 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: $3,000 from three contributions


Bill Simon Jr.

Total reported: $399,949 from 37 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: none


Peter V. Ueberroth

Total reported: $1,882,300 from 74 contributions

Amount reported for 24 hours ending Thursday: $350,300 from 30 contributions

* Donald Bren, Irvine Co. chief executive, contributed $21,200; Ueberroth's wife contributed $21,200; Don Ohlmeyer, a retired sports television producer, contributed $20,000


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