Aftershocks from Tuesday's "8-magnitude" court ruling against campaign contribution limits are rearranging California's political landscape. Political consultants report that new, large campaign checks are being accepted and hastily deposited because of fears that Proposition 73 limits of $1,000 for each individual and $5,000 for each organization may be reinstated soon by a possible higher-court action to stay U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton's ruling.
The main beneficiary appears to be Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dianne Feinstein, who had only $645,000 in the bank in August, compared to Republican nominee Sen. Pete Wilson's $3.9 million. Feinstein was spending much of her time scrambling for $1,000 checks to keep her television spots on the air. The Feinstein campaign said yesterday that it has begun seeking contributions from organizations and individuals going beyond the old limits.
The end to donor limits may help Republicans too. In one noticeable twist, the Democratic nominee for state treasurer, Kathleen Brown, stands to suffer even though it was her brother, former governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr., who as state Democratic Party chairman pushed for the legal challenge to the limits.
Her $1.2 million bank account gave her an advantage over GOP nominee Thomas W. Hayes, the appointed incumbent, who had a mere $24,000. Although Hayes has called for restoration of the old limits, he, like other financial underdogs, is expected to go for large contributions to try to close the gap if the courts leave Karlton's decision in place.
Even Wilson, despite his complaints about Feinstein's "abandoning her principles," has indicated he will "fight fire with fire" if he has to. Bill Livingston, an aide to Wilson, said Wilson has a list of 85,000 contributors he can go back to immediately if the ruling stands.