The six out candidates seeking California legislative seats in the November election have been raking in the cash this campaign season.
According to the most recent campaign finance disclosures with the Secretary of State’s office, posted October 6, more than $3 million has flowed to the gay and lesbian candidates’ coffers this year through September 30. An additional $248,600 had been reported raised in late filings through last Thursday, October 16.
Notably, lesbian Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who earlier this year was voted into the powerful speaker of the Assembly position by her legislative colleagues, accounted for more than half of the total raised by the out candidates.
The sextet, five of whom are Democrats, are all running for Assembly seats. Three are incumbents all but assured of clinching re-election November 4.
Among the three non-incumbents, two Democrats and one Republican, the GOPer is running more with an eye toward gaining leadership status within his party and has little chance of stealing the Assembly seat from the Democratic incumbent he is opposing.
One of the Democratic newcomers is a clear front-runner in his race for a South Bay seat, while the other is in a tough battle for a San Francisco Assembly seat long held by out legislators.
There are no state Senate races this fall with out candidates.
Depending on the outcome of the Assembly races, the California Legislative LGBT Caucus could see its current eight-person total decline. Two of the current caucus members will be leaving – gay Assemblymen John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), who had served as speaker, and Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – due to term limits.
Gay Democratic Campbell City Councilman Evan Low appears likely to replace one of the outgoing caucus members. He placed first in his primary race for the 28th Assembly District seat covering portions of west San Jose and several Peninsula cities and is facing off against Republican Saratoga Councilman Chuck Page.
Low, whose boss Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) currently holds the seat but is termed out this fall, has raised more than $324,000 so far this year and reported having more than $259,000 in cash on hand heading into the final weeks of the campaign.
Page, meanwhile, had raised just shy of $145,000 so far in 2014.
In the more competitive of the non-incumbent races, gay San Francisco District 9 Supervisor David Campos has pulled in nearly $698,000 this year for his race against Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents District 3, for Ammiano’s 17th Assembly District seat. Chiu, the more moderate of the two, has netted more than $1 million this year for his campaign.
Heading into October Campos, who placed second in the June primary race, reported having $230,624.86 in cash on hand, while first-place finisher Chiu was sitting on a cash balance of $543,710.15.
Lastly, among the non-incumbents, gay Republican lawyer Brad Torgan has brought in the least amount of any of the out legislative candidates this year, with a total haul so far of $9,237. His paltry fundraising total is reflective of the unlikelihood that he will oust incumbent Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) from the 50th Assembly District seat that covers West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Malibu. Bloom has raised more than $300,000 for his re-election bid.
Leadership has its privileges
By far Atkins takes the top prize in fundraising among the out candidates with a haul to date of more than $1.5 million in donations as she runs for a third and final two-year term in the Assembly. It comes as little surprise, considering as speaker she controls the agenda in the statehouse’s lower chamber, and thus, is being courted by myriad special interest groups and big dollar donors.
For a comparison, two years ago when Atkins sought re-election to her Assembly seat and was lower in the Legislature’s power rankings, she netted $478,612 in donations during the 2012 campaign year. That is less than a third of her total this year.
Her opponent in November, Republican Barbara Decker, has yet to report raising any money for her campaign.
The second best fundraiser among the trio of out incumbent legislators on this year’s ballot is lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). She has netted nearly $394,000 for her bid to serve a second two-year term in the 13th Assembly District seat in the Central Valley. Her opponent, Republican Sol Jobrack, has raised a little over $12,000.
Gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), running for his final two-year term in the 24th Assembly District on the Peninsula north of San Jose, has garnered more than $346,000 this year for his re-election bid. His opponent, Republican Diane Gabl, has raised $7,100 this year.
The next reporting deadline covers the first half of October and will be posted online this Thursday, October 23. The reports can be found by searching under the candidate’s name at http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/campaign/.