- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

LOS ANGELES President Bush's loyalists here worry about former Mayor Richard Riordan.
At Mr. Bush's behest, Mr. Riordan, 71, is challenging vulnerable Democratic Gov. Gray Davis next year. But critics say Mr. Riordan is a Republican in name only and is alienating the party's voter base.
"People are going to have to accept me for what I am and make up their own minds as to how Republican I am," Mr. Riordan told The Washington Times.
Bush supporters here say they have tried to persuade him to bring in more Republican campaign professionals to offset his campaign's bulging volunteer ranks of high-profile Democrats.
"We tell him, but we're not sure it doesn't go in one ear and out the other," one Republican said.
The White House wants a Republican running California by the 2004 elections, and figures Mr. Riordan, who prides himself on not being ideological, is their best shot.
But it galls Republicans that Mr. Riordan's unpaid co-chairman is Democrat Clint Reilly, who advised the campaigns of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Kathleen Brown, sister of former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
Other Riordan backers that are chalk on blackboard to Republicans include Warren Beatty for President-promoter Pat Cadell and former Michael Dukakis campaign manager Susan Struck.
"They're volunteers, but every paid person on my campaign is a Republican," Mr. Riordan said.
Nonetheless, five long-time Republican campaign professionals, including strategists Wayne Johnson, Arnold Steinberg and Dan Schnur, have quit the Riordan campaign.
His gubernatorial primary opponents, meanwhile, are reminding fellow Republicans that Mr. Riordan, a venture capitalist, has contributed more than $1 million to Democrats over the years far more than to Republicans.
Last year alone, he gave $12,500 to Mr. Davis' campaign and $23,250 to the Democratic senatorial, congressional, national and state campaign committees and thousands of dollars more to other Democrats. His wife, Nancy Daly Riordan, is a major fund-raiser for liberal Democrats.
Republicans fumed that he put off his formal campaign announcement so his wife could do a fund-raiser for Maryland Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Asked about his wife's Democratic partisanship, he said: "Let her defend herself. She feels more strongly than anyone I know that I ought to be the next governor."
His well-wishers privately worry that even if he wins nomination next March, he won't get the party's conservative voting base to the polls for the general election.
His response: "Most of the top conservative leaders are supporting me." Besides, he said, "everybody knows I'm a Republican, and what people in this state want is somebody who is not partisan as far as putting more police on the streets, creating jobs, getting rid of bureaucracy."
That's why, he said, he has conservative Republican congressmen such as Dana Rohrabacher, Chris Cox and David Drier supporting him. "They see me as a leader who can turn this state around," he said.
If policy positions are ideological road guides, Mr. Riordan is all over the map. He supports abortion and homosexual rights. But, he told The Washington Times, he opposes gun confiscation and supports the Second Amendment and "gun safety which means trigger locks to keep children from killing themselves."
Nevertheless, he enjoys the quiet support of state Republican Chairman Shawn Steel, a long-time conservative activist.
Mr. Riordan's two rivals for the Republican nomination are California Secretary of State Bill Jones and Bill Simon Jr., a conservative and son of Nixon administration Treasury Secretary William Simon.
Mr. Jones did not endear himself to the Bush team with his post-New Hampshire endorsement switch to Sen. John McCain last year. As testimony to the fallen fortunes of his party, Mr. Jones is the highest-ranking statewide elected Republican yet is struggling to raise money for his campaign.
Although Mr. Simon who acknowledges having donated to a Democrat once has raised almost as much money as Mr. Riordan and is wealthy enough to finance his own campaign, he is virtually unknown.
California Republicans, meanwhile, seem unable to begin the day unless they violate, at least twice before breakfast, Ronald Reagan's injunction against speaking ill of fellow Republicans.
Thus, Mr. Jones and Mr. Simon accuse Mr. Riordan of failing the Republican purity test, while Mr. Riordan accuses both of them of passing it and he calls them both an unprintable name.
Mr. Rohrabacher can't resist dumping on his own candidate, Mr. Riordan, and on Mr. Jones.
"Simon is a viable candidate, with the ideological foundation that Riordan doesn't have to attract the party's conservative voter base," Mr. Rohrabacher said. "Plus, he's got the party loyalty that Jones doesn't have. Within their own ranks, Jones is the worst enemy Republicans have had in this state."


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