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Expansion of Chargers stadium pitfall for Golding senate campaign

The file of 7000 donors

— How does Susan Golding hope to become a U.S. senator? By raising millions from San Diego's biotech fat cats. That's part of a plan revealed by Golding handler and ex-boyfriend George Gorton in an interview with Roll Call magazine. "According to Gorton," the magazine wrote last week, "Golding has a file of about 7000 donors from her bids for local office, and will make further inroads among the Westside Los Angeles Jewish community, the entertainment industry, and San Diego's flourishing biotechnology firms." Golding's strategy of hitting up San Diego business interests for campaign cash "worked just fine for Pete Wilson," Gorton added. But Stockton multimillionaire and Chargers owner Alex Spanos, expected to play a big part in Golding's fundraising, is taking a low public profile. "One potential pitfall for Golding," Roll Call notes, "is the controversy swirling around her handling of a contract to expand the stadium where the Chargers play, a dispute that has made local headlines for months." In addition to Gorton, the magazine says, look for pollster Dick Dresner and media guru Don Sipple to climb aboard the Golding truck soon. "The Golding campaign will emphasize crime and education," said Gorton, pointing specifically to a drop in San Diego's juvenile crime rate during her tenure. A troubling unknown for Golding, says Roll Call, is Vista's Darrel Issa. The car alarm magnate is said to be 99 percent sure of running for the seat, and he's worth $250 million.

It's that kind of town

The big downtown public relations firm of Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger couldn't resist doing a little horn-blowing for itself in the pages of this month's P.R. News, a trade magazine for the profession. Problem is, the write-up about Stoorza's work promoting January's grand opening of Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant in Mission Valley Center took a few shots at the locals. In a story headlined "Dishing Out the Goodies Lure Media to Restaurant Launch" the magazine wrote: "SZM's objectives were to build awareness of the cafe in San Diego [and] attract customers to the restaurant, despite its location in an older, unexciting shopping center." First, free food was used to lure TV types and disk jockeys: "A selection of menu items were hand-delivered to all major broadcast media, radio and TV... SZM tried to get the media to feel like they'd be missing out if they didn't come. 'Then, once they're there, they feel bonded to doing a story on it,' " Stoorza V.P. Sara Muller was quoted as saying. She added that "even though San Diego is the sixth-largest city in the U.S., it operates like a small town. We needed to get elected officials, presidents of chambers, CEOs, and top management of major companies to know about Wolfgang Puck.... When Puck asked why there were no celebrities at the launch, we said, 'These are the celebrities of San Diego.' "

Affirmative action

A congressman from Pennsylvania fears that San Diego's supercomputer center is in a battle to the death with its Pittsburgh counterpart, and he's doing what it takes to make sure the homeboys win. Rep. Mike Doyle, Democrat from Swissvale, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that the National Science Foundation, which divvies up grants for the centers, isn't playing fair with its plans to consolidate the nation's four supercomputer operations into just two. In addition to San Diego, the current centers are at Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and Ithaca, N.Y., as well as Pittsburgh. Doyle told a house committee he thinks San Diego might have an unfair advantage since it's out west. "This better not just be, 'Well, we want one east of the Mississippi and one west of the Mississippi,' " Doyle said. "There better be some sound scientific criteria for picking San Diego over Pittsburgh if that is what actually happens.''

Arena joust

Look for flames a week from next Wednesday when ex-mayor and Chargers contract foe Maureen O'Connor and U-T columnist Don Bauder join forces to tangle with car dealer and chamber of commerce honcho Steve Cushman and Ky Snyder, executive director of the San Diego International Sports Council. Headlined, "Does San Diego WANT what it takes to be 'America's Finest City?' " the luncheon event is set for the University of San Diego.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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