FEINSTEIN/CAMPBELL: Senate Candidates Face Off in First Debate
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and opponent Rep. Tom Campbell (R) "clashed repeatedly" yesterday over issues such as drug abuse, patients' rights and Proposition 36 during their first debate, the Los Angeles Times reports. During the hour-long debate, broadcast live throughout the state, Feinstein criticized Campbell for opposing legislation to establish a patients' bill of rights. Campbell said he opposed the measure "because it would allow lawsuits against employers." But Feinstein, who supports the measure, responded that the provision Campbell opposes applies "only in cases when employers make medical decisions." Addressing drug abuse, Feinstein said that Campbell's support for a government experiment to distribute drugs to addicts to determine whether drug abuse and related crime would decrease was "unbelievable." Campbell defended his stance, saying that politicians "must be willing to employ new tactics to fight drug abuse because current efforts have failed." The candidates also addressed Proposition 36, the ballot initiative that would send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment facilities instead of prison. Feinstein, who opposes the measure, "at first seemed to reverse her position," the Times notes, but expressed concern that the initiative "would allow those arrested for drugs many times to avoid jail sentences." The Times reports that the measure provides that allowance only twice, with decisions on subsequent offenses left up to a judge (Krikorian, Los Angeles Times, 10/25).
Times Endorses Feinstein
The Times endorsed Feinstein in today's edition, describing the incumbent as "a senator with a strong sense of leadership and the ability to set priorities in line with constituents." The Times points out that Campbell "has waged what at many points has been an unusual and even puzzling campaign," departing from the Republican platform in his support for abortion rights, for example. The Times calls Campbell's focus on the drug war "off point," as it is not a central issue with most California voters. By contrast, the Times praises Feinstein for her "reputation as a pragmatic Democrat who works well with colleagues in both parties" (Los Angeles Times, 10/25).