Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 4, 2002


Page 1


Bacigalupo Spending Tops $180,000 as Judicial Races Near End


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo has a huge financial advantage over his opponent in his bid to trade in his current post for that of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, campaign finance records show.

Bacigalupo, who faces Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound in tomorrow’s runoff for the seat of retired Judge David Finkel, spent more than $180,000 on his campaign through Oct. 19, the end of the last reporting period. The race appears on the ballot as Office No. 67.

Gelfound reported spending a little more than $50,000 through Oct. 5. His report for the last period has not yet been filed, an elections official said.

Unlike Bacigalupo, Gelfound was reporting cash on hand. He showed more than $138,000 in his account, leaving an $88,000 surplus.

But much of that was money loaned to the campaign by the candidate and by the family trust of his stepfather and campaign treasurer, Robert Lefton. And with Bacigalupo having locked up positions on most of the major slate mailers, one of the factors traditionally viewed as affecting the outcome of judicial elections in the county, it was difficult to see what Gelfound could do with the money if he was inclined to spend it.

Gelfound reported spending $5,000 to hire prominent criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos for a challenge to Bacigalupo’s ballot designation of “Judge, State Bar.” The Court of Appeal rejected the contention that the designation was likely to mislead voters into thinking that Bacigalupo is already a member of the Superior Court.

Bacigalupo was the only local judicial candidate to spend the $61,000 needed to place a candidate statement in the official ballot pamphlet. He was one of two candidates to pay for a statement in the primary, when the cost was only $27,000.

He also boasts a “well qualified” rating from the County Bar—Gelfound was rated “qualified”—and endorsements from the Los Angeles Times, Sheriff Lee Baca, Mayor James Hahn, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, county Supervisor Don Knabe and former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, who appointed him to his present position.

The candidate is married to political fundraiser and consultant Lucy McCoy Bacigalupo, whose firm, Garcia-McCoy-Lee Consulting Group, has been assisting the campaign.

Gelfound has attracted support from a number of fellow prosecutors and sitting judicial officers. Bacigalupo led the primary 36 percent to 29 percent, with the remainder divided between two other candidates.

There are three other judicial contests on tomorrow’s ballot.

Office No. 2—Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg and Santa Monica civil practitioner Joseph Deering, running as an “Eldercare Attorney,” face off for the seat last held by retired Judge Michael Pirosh.

The latest reports show Deering far outspending his rival, approximately $103,000 to $15,000. But Goldberg was reporting more than $60,000 in cash on hand, and sources said he was aggressively seeking to buy onto slate mailers in the closing days of the campaign.

Deering spent about $31,000 in the primary, most of it for the candidate statement. Most of his general election spending has been for slate mailers.

His consultant, Christopher Crotty of San Diego, acknowledged that all of that spending might not be enough to overcome the advantage of Goldberg’s ballot designation.

“In a county as large as Los Angeles it’s two things…money and…ballot title” that determine judicial election outcomes, he said. “I think ‘Eldercare Attorney’ is a really good ballot designation, but voters might be more persuaded by ‘Criminal Prosecutor.’”

Goldberg outpolled Deering 37 percent to 33 percent in the primary, with the remainder of the vote going to Administrative Law Judge Donald Renetzky. Goldberg has the Los Angeles Times endorsement.

Both candidates were rated “well qualified” by the County Bar.

Office No. 39—A pair of deputy district attorneys, Craig Renetzky and Richard Naranjo, are facing off for the seat of Judge Richard Spann, who did not seek re-election.

Reports showed Renetzky, who trailed 40 percent to 36 percent in the primary, outspending his rival by $64,000 to $27,000, with most of the money on both sides going into slate mailers.

The race has produced one of the few controversies of the generally quiet judicial election season, as Naranjo and his supporters have criticized Renetzky for changing his ballot designation from “Criminal Prosecutor” to “Prosecutor/Law Professor.” Naranjo said he was unaware of the change until after it was too late to challenge it in court, but complained to a number of organizations and government agencies.

The only entity to act on his complaint was the Fair Judicial Election Practices Committee of the County Bar, which concluded that the designation—which refers to a course that Renetzky teaches at Valley College—is not misleading.

Naranjo received the Los Angeles Times endorsement. Both were rated “qualified” by the Judicial Elections Evaluations Committee of the County Bar, which is independent of the committee that investigated Naranjo’s complaint.

The two committee have no overlapping members.       

Office No. 100—Deputy District Attorney Richard Walmark, listed as “Criminal Trial Prosecutor” and Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez, designated “Administrative Law Judge,” are the candidates to succeed Judge Reginald Dunn.

After equivocating on his plans, Dunn decided not to seek re-election. He later said he would retire Dec. 17 to become a private judge, but has now decided to serve out his term, a court official told the MetNews, giving way to the runoff winner on Jan. 6.

Walmark reported spending nearly $50,000 on the race to $38,000 for Gutierrez, with both sides investing heavily in slate mail.

Walmark outpolled Gutierrez 46 percent to 40 percent in the primary. Walmark was endorsed by the Times and rated “well qualified” by the County Bar, which rated Gutierrez “qualified.”


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company