The California Republican Party dropped a total of $142,000 today and Friday into the candidacy of GOP Assembly candidate Abram Wilson, according to state campaign filings of contributions in excess of $5,000.
I’ve been wondering when someone was going to spend some money on this race, viewed as one of the most competitive of Assembly contests in the state.
In 2008, Wilson and the successful Democratic nominee, Joan Buchanan, and their respective supporters, spent a staggering $3.4 million.
And now, here it almost October and voting by mail starts Monday, and the money adds up to just under $1 million combined between the two candidates.
It’s expected to be a tough year for Democratic incumbents. The state still doesn’t have an approved budget. The economy is in the dumps. People are angry and frustrated with political gridlock in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
But Buchanan has a couple of things going for her in the 15th District.
The Democratic Party’s registration lead over Republicans has expanded to 6 percentage points, up from 1.7 points in 2008. If Democrats show up to the polls, and that’s not a sure thing, she will have an advantage.
Buchanan, of Alamo, could also benefit from the fact that her opponent is the mayor of San Ramon, a city that pays its manager, Herb Moniz, more than any other city executive in California, according to a recent League of Cities compensation survey. (Three other cities reported higher total payments in 2009 than San Ramon but the figures included retirement payouts.)
Wilson has steadfastly defended Moniz’ pay, citing San Ramon’s solid fiscal standing as just one example of the executive’s valuable skills. The mayor also accurately notes that the compensation figures were self-reported to the league and many did not include health insurance and other benefits, making direct comparisons difficult.
Nonetheless, in the wake of the Bell scandal, where the city manager earned $800,000 a year and he, along with a half-dozen individuals, were indicted on criminal charges related to misuse of public funds, the voters are undeniably sensitive to the issue.