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Candidates report fund-raising results

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, March 27th, 2008 at 5:31 pm in 2008 June primary.

I’ve spent most of the day pouring through campaign finance reports for candidates running in the June 3 election.

Eeeh gawd, what a mind-numbing exercise! I’m all for public disclosure but I’m not sure the average voter has the stomach or the eyesight to wade through all this disclosure.

Nonetheless, it’s always interesting. It’s still a bit early and we haven’t seen the influx of independent expenditures likely to surface later on in the campaign.

But one of the themes of this campaign thus far is some of the candidates’ willingness to loan their campaigns big bucks.

Here’s a preview of a campaign finance story I’ve written for publication in the Contra Costa Times later this week:

Money is pouring into the contests for open Assembly districts 14 and 15 and the state Senate seat currently held by President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Alameda, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Candidates for two contested Contra Costa County supervisor seats are also raising cash, although one candidate had to send some of the money back.

Supervisor candidate Guy Houston, a soon-to-be-termed-out Assemblyman who is challenging incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho, returned $3,850 he had transferred from several of his other campaign accounts. The money originated with political action committees and the amount exceeded the county’s contribution limit of $40,000 per election.

Houston reported $148,786 cash on hand as of March 17 and has collected $192,956 in contributions since the beginning of the campaign. He has transferred $108,000 of that figure from his Assembly and Board of Equalization campaign committees.

Piepho had $74,993 cash in her campaign account and has received $81,380 in contributions toward her re-election bid.

Four Republican challengers vying or the chance to replace Houston in the Assembly are sparing no expense even it means writing super-sized personal checks.

Retired automobile dealership entrepreneur Robert Rao of Livermore personally loaned his campaign another $150,000 as of March 17, according to reports filed this week. Rao has forked over a total of $359,069 from his own funds since he began the campaign.

Rao reported $299,477 cash on hand in his campaign fund, the highest among the GOP field. He has received $553,889 in contributions, including his loans.

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson (he doesn’t have a web site yet) loaned his campaign $95,000, a step he took to jump-start a campaign he said almost didn’t happen after his father recently fell ill and passed away. He has received $199,927 in contributions.

Businessowner Judy Biviano Lloyd of Danville made a far smaller personal loan of $10,000 to her account, for a total of $17,112 from her own funds. She reported $211,173 in the bank as of the end of the filing period. She has received $304,708 in contributions.

Only optometrist Scott Kamena of Livermore has kept his wallet closed. He reported $283,566 in his campaign account in what appears to be a successful fund-raising appeal to fellow eye doctors. Since he started campaigning in 2006, he had received $412,433 in total contributions as of March 17.

On the Assembly District 15 Democratic ticket, San Ramon Valley School Board Trustee Joan Buchanan of Alamo is well ahead of her politically unknown opponent and Walnut Creek economist Ted Ford.

Ford reported $2,140 cash on hand and $4,030 in contributions, including a $2,000 personal loan.

Buchanan showed $122,475 in her account as of March 17, and has loaned her campaign $50,000.

Buchanan received $222,383 in contributions – including the loan – plus another $8,800 in contributions since the reporting deadline. The recent donations include $4,200 from IBEW and $3,600 from EMILY’s List.

In Contra Costa County, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg maintained a substantial financial lead over his four challengers in District 5. That could change as several candidates entered the race just prior to the March 7 candidate filing deadline and haven’t time to raise any cash.

Glover reported $103,281 cash on hand, including contributions of $1,675 from former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg, $1,000 each from Conoco Phillips, Garaventa Enterprises and his former employer, Dow Chemical.

The incumbent’s closest fiscal competitor, Erik Nunn, had just $1,786 in the bank. Nunn, a chief financial officer and Oakley Planning Commissioner.

Businessman Don Parscal loaned his campaign $3,015 and received an additional $1,630 in contributions.

Antioch school board trustee Gary Agopian and former Antioch mayor Mary Rocha, who entered the field late, had nothing to report.

The four Democratic primary candidates in the Assembly 14 primary (there are no Republican candidates) have also relied on personal loans to bolster their campaigns.

The leading fundraiser is political novice Dr. Phil Polakoff of Berkeley. He reported $55,883 cash on hand and has collected $139,892 in contributions, although that figure includes $31,000 in personal loans.

Nancy Skinner, an elected member of the East Bay Regional Park board and a Berkeley resident, had $122,198 in the bank, and has received $132,768 in contributions. She has loaned her campaign $30,000.

Richmond Councilman Tony Thurmond had $53,494 in the bank and has raised $77,000 since he started his campaign. He has loaned his campaign $4,200.

Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington had $64,317 cash on hand. He has received $109,026 in contributions, including $22,000 in loans.

In the hotly contested state Senate race for Perata’s seat, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan of Alameda have banked substantial war chests.

Chan had $507,283 cash on hand while Hancock reported $406,107 in the bank.

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  • Ted Ford

    I certainly realize that winning “the money race” brings certain bragging rights and that it’s “the mother’s milk…” and all that, but there’s a flip side to the coin. Both at the local level and in Sacramento, politicians are owned by special interest donors. It’s the main reason why government is dysfunctional, perhaps corrupt would be a better word. On a national level, most of the candidates draw PAC money. The exception is Obama who has taken in some $100m in small contributions. My question to the five other candidates in the AD-15 race as well as to the Supervisor candidates: is who is giving you the money and what do those donors expect in return? For the most part we already know the answer: land developers, large property owners, public sector unions, the nurses, the large corporations like the refineries which donate under the guise of the Chamber of Commerce. The donations are a big part of the problem. The candidates should be careful of too much bragging.

  • Ted Ford

    for more on the subject, http://www.electtedford.com/ .

  • Ken Hambrick

    Ted Ford hit the nail on the head when he says the local (and Sacramento) politicians are owned by special interests. And he’s right that the government is not just dysfunctional but perhaps corrupt.

    As far as our county Board of Supervisors are concerned, they certainly are owned by special interests, especially the public employee unions. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them corrupt, I would use a word more like incapable.

    We have a budget in the county of almost $2 billion being managed by a bunch of clowns who probably have trouble balancing their own check books. Well, at least three or four do.

  • Renegade GOP

    When Guy Houston crushes Mary Piepho the old order in Martinez and Contra Costa will shudder!!!!!!

  • Bernie Quigley

    Buchanan’s $122k cash seems less impressive if she gave herself $50k.