- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

Republican Bill Simon, buoyed by the reversal of a fraud verdict, has decided to plow millions of his own dollars into his campaign to unseat California Gov. Gray Davis, Simon associates said.
With skeptical donors finally beginning to smile on Mr. Simon's cash-starved campaign 51 days before the election, the candidate has decided to ante up $4 million of his own money to further boost donors' confidence, his associates said privately.
The move would come on top of the $5 million he had personally invested in his March 5 win in the three-way Republican primary.
"There is no question," said a major Simon donor. "I've talked with other donors in groups and they want to see Bill put in a significant amount of his own money. If he does, it will have an impact on donors similar to the impact the reversal of the verdict had."
Some donors and rank-and-file Republicans had all but written off Mr. Simon after a jury awarded his former partner $78 million in a business fraud lawsuit on July 30.
But on Thursday, as Mr. Simon had predicted, a Los Angeles superior court judge reversed the jury verdict, ruling instead that Mr. Simon's investment firm had been defrauded and awarding it $125,000 to cover costs.
The original fraud verdict, however, appeared to hurt Mr. Simon with potential donors even more than with voters.
"Before the jury hit Simon's firm with that $78 million judgment, he was 11 [percentage] points behind Davis in the polls, and after the jury award and the unrelenting Davis ad campaign against Simon, he was only seven points behind Davis," said state Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte. "It did, however, stop Simon's fund-raising in its tracks.
"Now that the judge has reversed that judgment, the money is coming in over the transom," Mr. Brulte said.
By the end of last week, the Simon campaign was left with less than $1 million in cash not enough for a week's worth of statewide TV ads. But the overturning of the fraud verdict changed the game.
Major donors mostly liberal Republicans who had backed former Los Angles Mayor Richard Riordan in the primary once gave money to Mr. Simon only because President Bush was on hand to ask for it. These same donors are now taking a second look at Mr. Simon.
"When I got word the judgment was overturned, I went into the chief financial officer of my firm and said, 'I want to draw another $5,000 check for the Simon campaign,'" said Dale Dykema, an Orange County business owner and board member of the liberal New Republican Majority.
"The reversal of the verdict swung it for me I wouldn't have given Simon any more otherwise," Mr. Dykema said.
The Davis campaign had been using negative TV ads to pound Mr. Simon over the original jury award.
Longtime Democratic strategist Joe Cerrell said the verdict reversal coupled with Mr. Simon's showing commitment by giving his own money will help him with business and political action committees that have been "investing" in Mr. Davis' better-managed campaign.
"No doubt a lot of Republican donors are taking out 'insurance' by giving to Gray Davis," said Mr. Cerrell. "Maybe now they will actually go back to their own guy because they think that with the fraud award overturned, maybe he has a shot."
Simon fund-raisers claim part of their problem is Mr. Davis' own "pay to play" approach to squeezing campaign contributions out of those who do business with the state government.
"The reason Simon hasn't raised much from [political action committees] is that the people who run them are scared about taking on Mr. Vengeance," Gregory Slayton, Simon campaign finance co-chairman, said in reference to Mr. Davis.
Despite flip-flopping on the homosexual agenda first opposing same-sex unions, then appearing to support them, then reversing his position again Mr. Simon has managed to hold on to at least some of his conservative supporters, though polls show voters generally dislike both candidates.

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