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Huffington Discounts Poll That Shows Him Trailing Feinstein

November 1, 1994

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Sen. Dianne Feinstein pulled ahead of GOP challenger Michael Huffington in a new poll released Monday that included interviews after the Republican’s admission he hired an illegal alien.

Going into the final week of the campaign, the independent Field Poll showed the Democrat ahead by a margin of 45 percent to 39 percent. The survey, which was conducted from Oct. 21 to Sunday, has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Feinstein had enjoyed a 28-point lead in January, but nearly a year of Huffington attack ads chipped away her advantage to a dead heat last month, with each candidate polling 43 percent.

Pollster Mervin Field said the impact of Huffington’s revelation last Wednesday that he had hired an illegal alien to care for his two children was uncertain. Huffington supports a controversial measure, Proposition 187, that would deny most state benefits to illegal aliens; Feinstein opposes it.

″Early in the week, Huffington was stronger than in the latter part of the week,″ Field said. ″But we really can’t say conclusively it was the nanny story that caused the shift.″

The poll also found that despite Huffington’s roughly $25 million campaign, one in three voters still has no opinion of him. Huffington has spent more than twice what Feinstein has in the nation’s most expensive Senate race ever.

Campaigning in Fresno, Huffington said his private poll shows the race is much closer.

″My poll goes through last night,″ Huffington said. ″This race is a statistical dead heat.″

In Los Angeles, Feinstein received the endorsements of five Republican executives of top defense firms, just one day after she was endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, also a Republican.

″We’re here not as Republicans or Democrats or representatives of our companies. We’re here as individuals,″ said Kent Kresa, president of the Northrup Grumman Corp.

″We all believe Dianne Feinstein has been one of the most productive members of Congress, particularly on the defense side. She has taken the time to learn about all the issues and she has aggressively supported critical issues,″ Kresa said.

Kresa was joined by C. Michael Armstrong, chairman of Hughes Aircraft Co.; Robert Hood, president of Douglas Aircraft; Sam Iacobellis, executive vice president and deputy chairman of Rockwell International; and Tim Hanneman, executive vice president of TRW.

Feinstein also received the endorsements of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters following recent passage of a massive desert protection bill that Feinstein vigorously fought for in the Senate. The legislation protects more than 6 million acres of desert and creates two new national parks.

″There were times when I wasn’t really sure we were going to get this legislation done,″ she said. ″We created, I think, a living legacy to positive and productive environmentalism.″

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