For the last several weeks, the only television spot California Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dianne Feinstein could afford was a dramatic recitation of her stand favoring the death penalty. Voters soon had it memorized, while the Republican nominee, Sen. Pete Wilson, maintained his television momentum with slick spots on crime, victims' rights and crack babies.
But a federal judge's ruling overturning state limits on individual and committee campaign contributions, left standing Thursday by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, has brought Feinstein's campaign an infusion of cash -- expected to total an extra $2 million eventually -- and allowed her to begin airing two environmentally oriented spots.
In both, she sits beside a quiet pond near her vacation home at Stinson Beach, wearing in one an uncharacteristically casual denim jacket and in the other a cable sweater draped over her white blouse. "California needs a new governor because California needs change," she says, smiling slightly at the camera. "We need to solve problems, clean up our air and water. . . . "
In the second spot, Feinstein plugs herself and the environmental initiative Proposition 128, which caused consternation at some television stations because initiative spots are supposed to be charged a higher rate.
Wilson, still expected to outspend Feinstein 2 to 1 on television, has vehemently criticized her refusal to voluntarily comply with the old limits of $1,000 for individual contributions and $5,000 from organizations. Checks as large as $150,000 are coming in from labor organizations. Feinstein press secretary Dee Dee Myers chortled over a $50,000 contribution from actor Chevy Chase: "He just whipped out his checkbook and ripped out a fat one."