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Hayashi, Yee amass piles of campaign cash

A gander at Bay Area state lawmakers’ cash on hand at the end of 2009 reveals that two are way ahead of the pack.

In the East Bay, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, had $367,751.57 in her campaign coffers at last year’s end, more than twice the amount of any other Bay Area Assembly member seeking re-election in 2010; the next-closest is Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, at $182,390.30.

It looks like the bulk of Hayashi’s contributions have come from labor unions and health-care-related interest groups – not surprising, given she chairs to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. Still, that’s a lot of heft for someone who’s unlikely to face a primary election challenge, and who represents an overwhelmingly Democratic district.

There were unsubstantiated rumors last year that Hayashi might mount a primary challenge to state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro (who had a hefty $2207,368.04 in the bank at year’s end), but she has filed no such notice of intent with the Secretary of State’s office. Then again, I don’t see that she has an Assembly re-election Web site up. Then again again, she probably doesn’t need one yet.

But the Bay Area’s biggest pot o’ gold belongs to state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who had $1,058,674.86 in the bank at 2009’s end. Beyond Chron has an interesting rundown on where a good chunk of that money is coming from, and why.

Although Yee is seeking re-election this year, he’s also rumored to be preparing for a San Francisco mayoral run in 2011. If so, he could end up needing a lot of cash in a crowded race against Supervisor Bevan Dufty, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Assessor Phil Ting, and possibly Public Defender Jeff Adachi and District Attorney Kamala Harris, too (if Harris doesn’t prevail in this year’s state Attorney General’s race, as she’s hoping).

The region’s barest cupboard is that of state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who had $19,296.47 in the bank at year’s end. But he’s not up for re-election until 2012, so he has plenty of time to beef up the bankroll.

UPDATE @ 11:36 A.M. FRIDAY 2/12: Yee takes umbrage at Beyond Chron’s characterization of his votes. From a letter he sent to Beyond Chron:

The author attacked my voting record on 7 different health care bills that came before me in the State Senate. Regrettably, the author was in such a rush to play “gotcha politics,” talk about “flip-flopping” and “blue-dog Democrats”, that he never called or contacted my office to get the facts.

The result is all too familiar: on 5 of the 7 bills in question, the author was simply dead wrong on the facts. While accidents happen, it is hard to believe that anyone who was writing a hit piece as vitriolic as this one would just accidentally get over 70% of their facts wrong.

Yee said four of the votes at issue were held on the same day, on which he was absent to attend his daughter’s wedding. Beyond Chron called a fifth, on a bill to create a public, single-payer health care system, a flip-flop on Yee’s part, but Yee said the bill had been gutted and amended into something entirely different in the year between his votes.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.