Republican Carl DeMaio (l) and Congressman Scott Peters.
Republican Carl DeMaio (l) and Congressman Scott Peters.

With Labor Day — the unofficial start of fall campaign season — in the rearview mirror, the red-hot contest between Democratic Representative Scott Peters and former Republican San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio is in full swing. With that in mind, here’s a recap of where things stand in the money race.

inewsource reporter Joe Yerardi discusses the race in California’s 52nd congressional district on NBC San Diego’s Politically Speaking.

Where the candidates stand

Peters and DeMaio are neck-and-neck in fundraising. They want to represent the 52nd Congressional District, which runs north from Coronado to La Jolla, and then east to include Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Poway and Rancho Bernardo.

The Democrat’s brought in about $2.5 million (including about $72,000 of his own money). Like many incumbent members of Congress, Peters has been the beneficiary of much political action committee money, pulling in about $970,000 from PACs. He’s raised about $1.4 million from individuals.

DeMaio’s been pulling in the cash, too. He’s raised more than $2.2 million. Of that amount, about $1.8 million has come from individuals and $270,000 from PACs. He’s also banked about $150,000 from joint fundraising committees, almost all of which has come from a committee with major GOP gay rights supporters as donors.

CA-52 Contributions by Type Dashboard

In addition to being one of the most-expensive races in the country, the contest distinguishes itself by the amount of money coming from within the district. As of the May 15 pre-primary campaign finance report, about 74 percent of all contributions from individuals had come from within San Diego county.

What outside spending groups are doing

The candidates aren’t the only source of money in the race. There’s an array of organizations plopping down big money on TV ads to support and oppose Peters and DeMaio.

For the past month, several outside spending groups on both sides of the aisle have made multiple ad buys cumulatively worth millions of dollars. These groups include super PACs like the Democratic House Majority PAC, which last month purchased $58,000 worth of television ads to run during the last two weeks of the campaign, as well as so-called “dark money” groups that don’t disclose their donors like the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, which launched $700,000 worth of television ads in August.

In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee — party-run committees whose sole purpose is supporting House candidates — have both reserved more than $1 million apiece in television advertising.

What to look for next

The next batch of campaign finance reports are due on October 15. They’ll cover all campaign fundraising and spending between July 1 and September 30.

Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email

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