- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

Republican Bill Simon's troubled campaign for governor of California has secured what it is calling "a major victory" with 22 of the Mexican American Political Association's 32 chapters voting during the weekend to endorse him over Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.
"From the beginning, the Latino community has always been a priority for me," Mr. Simon said. "I am extremely proud to have earned the support of so many MAPA delegates today, and I promise to continue to focus my campaign on the issues that all Californians are truly concerned about: education, the economy and our quality of life."
Mr. Simon also began consolidating his various campaign offices in the state into a single headquarters in Sacramento in a move that campaign sources said was designed to increase efficiency and cut costs in order to free up money for a television campaign that could begin soon, instead of after Labor Day as originally proposed by chief campaign strategist Sal Russo.
Campaign Chairman John Herrington and Ed Rollins, a former Russo partner working for the Simon campaign for several months, argued that waiting until September to begin countering Mr. Davis' steady stream of effective television ads would let Mr. Davis define Mr. Simon as an inept and unethical businessman incapable of running the most populous state in the nation.
The Simon campaign was quick to call the MAPA vote an "embarrassment" for Mr. Davis, "who has been widely criticized for his failures to improve California's education system and on other issues of particular interest to Latinos."
Simon forces said Davis aides were "caught off guard by the groundswell of Simon support [and] attempted to alter convention rules, and even canceled the convention, in order to cover up the Simon victory."
"This is just typical of the ethical and moral standards Gray Davis has brought with him to the governor's office," Mr. Simon said. "This type of change-the-rules-to-meet-your-needs tactic, and strong-arm actions to cover up unwanted criticism, is the same kind of arrogant and disappointing record we have seen Gray Davis demonstrate in one pay-to-play scandal after another. It is no wonder the Latino community is tired of Gray Davis."
Mr. Russo had opposed spending money the campaign did not have on ads to which a midsummer voting public would pay little attention.
Mr. Simon has been attempting to use free press publicity to make his case that Mr. Davis has pressured unions and other groups to donate to his campaign in exchange for supporting their interests in the state government.
Mr. Davis was hit with bad publicity again on Saturday when reports surfaced that his administration had ignored numerous complaints against a dietary drug manufacturer in exchange for $150,000 in campaign contributions over several years.
Mr. Simon's own missteps, including a $78 million jury award in a fraud lawsuit against his investment firm and his failure to alert the White House of the existence of the lawsuit, virtually blacked out the Republican's message in the state's news media until this weekend.

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