By Kevin Crowe and Ryann Grochowski
In the race for the 52nd Congressional District, political action committees and a candidate with deep pockets are the major financial players. But, individual donors are almost perfectly split on the two remaining candidates.
Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray has outraised Port Commissioner Scott Peters, a Democrat, almost two to one during the campaign, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosure forms filed with the Federal Elections Commission. Bilbray has raised a total of about $1.4 million, compared to his opponent’s $736,000. Peters also loaned his campaign $1.25 million, which is not included in that total.
But, the candidates have collected almost the same amount of money from individual donors, $569,000 and $562,000, respectively. During the most recent fundraising period, Peters collected almost $70,000 more from individuals than Bilbray.
PACs are making up the difference for the Bilbray campaign. In total, $756,275 of Bilbray’s campaign cash, or about 53 percent, has come from political action committees, a fact his opponent’s campaign says ties him to special interests.
“It’s always more difficult for a challenger than an incumbent because the incumbents – Mr. Bilbray in particular – are so tied to special interests,” said MaryAnne Pintar, spokesperson for the Peters campaign.
The Peters campaign has received just $88,519 from PACs, and he’s loaned himself more money than he’s raised.
“Mr. Peters’ wealth is not enough to buy this or any other Congressional seat,” wrote Bilbray campaign spokesperson Tom Mitchell in an email.
Peters emerged from a tight primary in which he edged out Lori Saldana, also a Democrat, by 719 votes. The victory was expensive – his campaign spent $1.8 million through the end of June compared to about $854,000 by Bilbray’s campaign.
The primary expenses left Peters with a shrunken bank account as he had only about $89,000 in cash on hand at the end of last month. Bilbray’s campaign had $833,000.
“I think it’s no secret that this is going to be an expensive campaign,” said Pintar. “ But, we are ready and I think we are going to have the resources to take (Bilbray) on.”
Other area Congressional races are clear cut with incumbents easily outspending their challengers by miles.
Darrell Issa, a high-profile Republican who heads the House Government Reform Committee, is running for reelection in the 49th, which covers much of North San Diego County and parts of Orange County. He raised nearly $215,000 this period, with $128,000 of that cash coming from political action committees. The Republican reported having $1.16 million in his war chest at the close of the reporting period. It’s a far cry from his opponent, Democrat Jerry Tetalman, who raised about $6,000 this period. Tetalman, a former registered nurse who currently operates a real estate firm with his wife, has collected nearly $30,000 total.
In the 53rd district where, incumbent Democrat Susan Davis raised about $75,000 this period, bringing her total raised to about $473,000. She received about $36,000 in PACs this period. She left her opponent, Nick Popaditch, in the dust. The retired marine collected about $6,500 this period, bringing his total to $28,000. Popaditch ran against Bob Filner for his seat in the 51st in 2010 and lost.
In the 51st district, Democrat Juan Vargas raised nearly $170,000 this period, with about $100,000 coming from political action committees. This brings his election total to about $626,000. The FEC website listed no recent filings for Michael Crimmins, the Republican challenger, and his campaign did not reply to a message left Monday.
Duncan Hunter has raised $689,000 for his campaign for the 50th District. His opponent, David Secor, reported raising $145.