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Jerry Brown and Rocky Delgadillo Nearly Even In Campaign Fund Raising - Dailynews.com

Wow, with his name recognition, you'd think Mayor Jerry Brown would be light years in front of Rocky Delgadillo, his challenger for the California Attorney General's Office.

But he's not.

Rocky's raised $3.8 million versus Jerry's $4.2 million. That's a near dead heat.

Here's Rocky!


Rocky shoots for the `Moonbeam'
Delgadillo vs. Brown shapes up as competitive attorney general primary
BY RICK ORLOV, Staff Writer

In one of the most intriguing political races of the season, an upstart Latino politician from East Los Angeles faces one of California's best known - and most controversial - political figures of the last generation.

It's Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo vs. the mayor of Oakland and former two-term governor Jerry Brown. At stake in the June 6 primary is the title of Democratic candidate for California attorney general.

The winner will face Republican state Sen. Chuck Poochigian of Fresno, who is unopposed in the GOP primary.

With two months to go, the 68-year-old Brown, who returned to California politics seven years ago to become Oakland's mayor, has reveled in the fact that much of the campaign spotlight so far has focused on him.

"This race is still all about Jerry Brown," said Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic consultant. "The big thing Brown has going for him is people know his name. He does have some high negatives, but I think people will forgive and forget the 1970s and 1980s when he was at his peak.

"He is a known product to many voters and it will be up to Rocky to try to break through and make his own connection."

And it's a battle that could be fierce. The most recent campaign reports show Brown with $4.2 million compared to Delgadillo's $3.8 million.

Delgadillo said he expects to have enough money to compete in the final weeks before the election, with political consultants estimating the cost of a full statewide television campaign at $1.5 million to $2 million a week.

Still, it won't be easy.

"I have five polls all showing me with wide leads and one showing me as the most popular Democrat in the state," Brown said last week in a telephone interview. "I think what accounts for it is a lot of people remember my governorship with fondness - and they've seen what I've done.

"I've been a governor. I've been a mayor ... I've lived in a partisan world and worked in a nonpartisan. No one has the experience that I can draw on."

Brown, the son of the popular Gov. Pat Brown - who is credited with building the state's university system and freeways - helped reshape state government with his appointments of women and minorities during his two terms as governor.

During his years as governor, Brown put renewed emphasis on issues that were still developing, such as the environment and talking about an era of limits, part of what earned him the nickname of Gov. Moonbeam.

But he also shifted his politics from traditional Democratic programs to a more pragmatic style after the passage of the landmark Proposition 13 property tax measure.

While he drew attention as much for his lifestyle - the dating of rock star Linda Ronstadt and his three runs for president - few remember how pragmatically political Brown was.

He began as a Los Angeles Community College District trustee and went on to become state controller, secretary of state, and then governor.

But the political landscape has significantly changed since Brown's term as governor ended 24 years ago, with a generation of voters who either don't recall his tenure or look on it with bemused curiosity.

Delgadillo, 45, has been Los Angeles city attorney for five years. His only public experience was as a legal adviser to Rebuild L.A. and as a deputy mayor under former Mayor Richard Riordan before his election upset of Councilman Mike Feuer.

And his campaign has experienced some tough going in its initial stages, including when political consultant Larry Grisolano decided not to manage his campaign.

Grisolano said he remains a Delgadillo supporter, but said the two differed over how the campaign should be conducted.

Delgadillo's administration of the City Attorney's Office also has come under criticism in recent months, most notably from City Controller Laura Chick, who has questioned the number of private firms Delgadillo has hired.

Many of the firms are contributors to Delgadillo and there have been questions over whether they are performing work that should be done by city lawyers. Delgadillo defends his policies by saying he has reduced liability payouts.

He remains optimistic despite his struggles, including recently losing a court battle over a wrongful-termination suit filed by a former city prosecutor.

"I was a 31-point underdog the week before the (2001) election," Delgadillo told about 50 members of the Los Angeles Business Council last week.

"In fact, my opponent called me the day of the election, saying, `Hey, it was nice running against you.' The next day he had to call to congratulate me. He underestimated how hard I worked.

"I think we will surprise a lot of people in June."

Delgadillo said he hopes to have a similar experience in his race for attorney general.

"In this race I am running against a former governor. The son of a former governor," Delgadillo said. "My name is not Brown. It's Delgadillo. I think it makes a difference.

"I think it makes a difference in how we think about the state and what the state has become. We are now a minority majority state. It's a different state from (when Brown served).

"And we are going to need more people to think differently about this job."

Delgadillo, a married father of two, won a scholarship to Harvard University, got his law degree from Columbia University and returned to L.A. to join the prestigious law firm of O'Melveny & Myers.

There, Delgadillo helped Rebuild L.A. and met Riordan, who brought him into his administration where he led efforts to attract new businesses and retain existing ones.

As city attorney, Delgadillo has begun a number of new programs - the most successful being the neighborhood prosecutor program. Under that, deputy city attorneys are assigned to work with the police and residents to identify and prosecute quality-of-life crimes before they can become larger problems.

Delgadillo said he also has continued to use an aggressive approach with gangs, using injunctions to slow and stop their activities in the poorest parts of the city

Brown has emphasized that he has broader experience, especially what he learned as Oakland mayor dealing with urban issues of crime and poverty.

Delgadillo disputes Brown's effectiveness, pointing to recent spikes in Oakland's crime rate. And he touts his own efforts to battle crime with anti-truancy and neighborhood improvement programs.

"A lot of people told me I should have run for another office first, that it's crazy to take on Jerry Brown," Delgadillo said. "And what I've said all along is that I am running to make a difference and not just be an elected official.

"I think people are looking for someone who is a leader and has the courage to take on a tough fight."

rick.orlov@dailynews.com

(213) 978-0390
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