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The Nation

Giuliani taps California for donors

February 08, 2007|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Presumed Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani is seeking to broaden his fundraising base beyond Wall Street, aggressively prospecting in California with stops at a country club here and homes in Orange County and Del Mar in coming days.

A review of donors to the former New York mayor's presidential exploratory committee and to a political action committee he controls shows that his main contributors have been blue-chip law firms, investment houses and financial services companies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Those states account for three-fourths of the money he has raised. But in making his second California trip in as many weeks, Giuliani is seeking to tap into the Republicans who hope to hang onto the White House in 2008. The success of Giuliani's efforts won't be known until he files his campaign finance statement in April.

At least in the early days of 2007, Giuliani seems to be spending more time mining California Republicans than his two main rivals, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

On this trip, Giuliani's first fundraising stop will be at a $2,300-a-ticket event at the Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento on Friday; his hosts include builders, a lobbyist, a Mercedes-Benz dealership owner and two state lawmakers.

After addressing the California Republican Party convention Saturday, Giuliani will travel to Silicon Valley and the Tulare County Fairgrounds next week, where the New Yorker will attend the World Ag Expo, an annual farm-equipment trade show.

"I think Rudy can win California," said Andrew Littlefair, president of Clean Energy, a natural gas firm based in Seal Beach, who is to co-host a fundraiser in San Clemente next week. "It has gotten very difficult for our party to cede some of these large states. Rudy can be very competitive in California, Connecticut and New York."

Littlefair said he hoped to raise $250,000 for Giuliani during the campaign. One of Littlefair's partners at Clean Energy is Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. The oil and gas mogul, one of the GOP's largest campaign spenders nationally in recent years, figures prominently in Giuliani's plans.

Pickens and others in his Dallas investment firm, BP Capital Management, have given at least $50,000 of the roughly $4 million that Giuliani had raised through 2006 for his presidential exploratory committee and federal political action committee.

Pickens is hosting a Giuliani event in early March in the Del Mar area, where the Texan lives part time, Littlefair said. Pickens' wife, Madeleine, owns Del Mar Country Club.

California's primary could take place less than a year from now. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are pressing to hold the primary Feb. 5, 2008.

How much presidential contenders might spend on a California primary campaign is not clear. In the 2006 Democratic primary bid for governor, then-state Controller Steve Westly spent $43 million, only to lose the nomination to Phil Angelides, who spent $28 million.

Given such price tags, Assemblyman Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks), a host of Friday's event, said he was "not terribly surprised" by the early fundraising. He has not endorsed anyone in the race, but said Giuliani "would be a great candidate."

Giuliani spokeswoman Katie Levinson would not discuss fundraising plans but called the response to Giuliani "tremendous," adding: "We continue to be grateful for the support he has received across the state and across the country."

Aspects of Giuliani's fundraising strategy were contained in a 140-page briefing book that was leaked to the New York Daily News last month. The playbook, which has been posted on the Internet, says he hopes to raise $100 million to $125 million this year, with 250 fundraisers.

The book includes details about California -- and suggests he has a bit to learn about the state. For example, it says Stockton developer Alex G. Spanos, a major Republican donor, owns the "L.A. Raiders." Spanos owns the San Diego Chargers, not the Oakland Raiders.

The book nonetheless gets the gist correct: that California is worth mining. It notes that President Bush raised $12.6 million in California in 2003 and early 2004, more than any state outside his home state of Texas.

Giuliani's largest single chunk of money has come from partners and employees at the $6-billion New York hedge fund, Elliott Management, founded by Paul E. Singer. The book notes that Singer is expected to play a key role in Giuliani's fundraising. Singer's firm has accounted for at least $140,000 of the money raised by Giuliani through 2006.

Other notable donors include New York investor Carl Icahn and Texas Rangers owner Thomas Hicks, a former venture capitalist. Hicks was among Bush's major fundraisers.

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dan.morain@latimes.com

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