For those of you making your final decisions on Tuesday about who to vote for in the June primary, you may be thinking back to the campaign fliers, signs and commercials you’ve been bombarded with over the past weeks.
Why this matters
A lot of different sources of money can back a politician’s run for office. By knowing where that money is coming from, voters can learn about the priorities and connections of candidates on the ballot.
Politicians’ campaigns paid for some of these materials. Outside groups that can’t legally coordinate with the campaigns also paid for some of them.
Knowing where all of this money is coming from can help voters make informed decisions when they cast their ballots. So here are some key facts inewsource collected through data and analysis about the money behind this year’s most competitive political races in San Diego County.
Rep. Hunter falls flat in fundraising in the 50th
Seven candidates are running in California’s 50th Congressional District, which covers the eastern portion of San Diego County.
Republicans make up 42 percent of voters in the district, while Democrats make up 27 percent, but the lead fundraiser in the race is a Democrat. Business owner Ammar Campa-Najjar has raised $844,000, including a $5,000 donation on May 31 from the San Diego County Democratic Party.
Incumbent Republican Duncan Hunter, who is facing an FBI investigation into allegations he misused campaign funds, has raised $796,000 for his campaign this year and spent $1.2 million.
Hunter has received donations from several federal political action committees, including $1,000 from the National Rifle Association on May 29.
One outside group also has stepped into the race: Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund has spent $862 on a print ad opposing Hunter.
Millions raised in 49th Congressional District race
The top four fundraisers in the highly contested race for the 49th Congressional District, which stretches from La Jolla to Dana Point, are all Democrats. The seat is held by Republican Darrell Issa, who opted not to seek a 10th term after almost losing his last re-election to Democrat Doug Applegate, who is again running this year.
Former nonprofit CEO Sara Jacobs has raised $2.2 million, including almost $1.6 million she gave her own campaign. She has also received the most outside support through independent expenditures. A group called Women Vote! has spent $2.4 million to support her campaign through fliers and commercials.
Democrat and environmental attorney Mike Levin has raised $1.7 million and spent $1.5 million. Levin’s money is mostly coming from small donors around the country through a company called ActBlue, which fundraises for Democratic candidates.
Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, who led the race in an April Survey USA poll, trails seven other candidates in fundraising. Meanwhile, outside groups have spent $1.9 million on commercials and other ads to oppose his campaign and $444,000 to support it.
Other San Diego County congressional races
Three other members of Congress representing parts of San Diego County also are up for re-election. They are all Democrats and all hold strong fundraising leads over their opponents.
Rep. Juan Vargas, whose 51st District includes southern San Diego County and all of Imperial County, has raised $621,000. Of the five others running for the seat, business owner John Renison, a Republican, is next in the fundraising race. He has raised $49,000, including $43,000 of his own money.
In the 52nd District, Rep. Scott Peters has raised $2 million. Of the six other candidates in the race, his closest challenger in fundraising is Republican Michael Allman, a former Sempra Energy executive who has raised $413,000. Peters first won the seat in 2012, when he upset incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray. The district runs north from Coronado to La Jolla and then east to include Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Poway and Rancho Bernardo.
In the 53rd District, Rep. Susan Davis has raised $258,000 for her campaign. Of the five other candidates in the race, the runner-up in fundraising is community organizer Bryan Kim with $36,000. He is registered to vote as a decline to state. The district includes parts of San Diego, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, La Mesa, Spring Valley and Chula Vista.
Outside groups are major players in DA’s race
Because there are only two candidates, the district attorney’s race between Summer Stephan and Geneviéve Jones-Wright will be decided on Tuesday.
PACs have spent more than $3.3 million in the race, and Jones-Wright, a deputy public defender, has been the recipient of more than half of that outside money support. A PAC funded by New York billionaire investor George Soros has spent slightly more than $2 million backing her candidacy. The group canceled all of its remaining TV ads last week, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Stephan, the interim district attorney, has her own independent backers. She’s been bolstered by almost $786,100 in spending from the Deputy District Attorneys Association’s PAC, as well as more than $191,300 in spending from a group sponsored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
PACs are able to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money in a race, as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidates.
Independent groups backing Jones-Wright have spent twice as much as the PACs supporting her opponent, but Stephan’s campaign has dominated in fundraising. Stephan has raised about $601,200, including a $40,000 contribution on May 24 from the San Diego County Republican Party.
Jones-Wright has raised almost $252,700, including a $10,000 contribution on Saturday from the San Diego County Democratic Party.
Incumbent leads in fundraising for sheriff’s race
Sheriff Bill Gore, a Republican who was appointed in 2009 and first elected in 2010, has raised more than $359,100 for his re-election. He’s also been supported by the Deputy Sheriffs Association PAC, which has spent almost $46,800 to support his candidacy.
His opponent is sheriff’s Cmdr. Dave Myers, who has worked for the department for 33 years. He’s raised almost $210,200, including a $1,500 contribution on Wednesday from the San Diego County Democratic Party. Myers has also received support from a pair of PACs: Get Out The Vote has spent about $3,200, and San Diego County Gun Owners PAC has spent about $201.
Because there are only two candidates, the race will be decided Tuesday.
Major outside spending for Ron Roberts’ seat
PACs have spent almost $1.2 million in the 4th District county Board of Supervisors race, and almost all of that has gone to support and oppose two candidates: Democrats Nathan Fletcher and Lori Saldaña. They are vying to replace Republican Supervisor Ron Roberts, who is termed out.
Fletcher and Saldaña are both former Assembly members and failed San Diego mayoral candidates. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in March that disagreement over which candidate to back in the race resulted in a high-profile split among San Diego labor groups.
Elect Lori Saldaña, sponsored by the San Diego Working Families Council labor association, has spent about $198,200 backing her and slightly more than $136,500 opposing Fletcher. The PAC for the San Diego County Lincoln Club has also spent almost $412,600 opposing his candidacy.
A second labor-funded PAC, San Diegans Opposed to Hypocrisy & Lori Saldaña, has spent almost $290,200 to oppose her. On Friday, that group also spent about $113,000 supporting Fletcher.
The San Diego County Democratic Party has spent more than $870,000 supporting Fletcher. Political parties are allowed to coordinate with candidates when they’re communicating with party members, including with mailers and robocalls.
Fletcher has led in fundraising, with almost $512,600, including a $25,000 loan he gave his campaign on Friday. Former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a Republican and failed San Diego mayoral candidate, is the fundraising runner-up with about $432,500. Saldaña has raised just under $38,100 in the race.
The district covers central San Diego, from La Jolla to downtown on the west and from Kearny Mesa to southeastern San Diego on the east.
Republicans dominate fundraising for Bill Horn’s seat
Two Republicans, San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond and Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern, lead in fundraising in the race to replace termed-out Republican Supervisor Bill Horn in the 5th District county Board of Supervisors seat.
Desmond, who was cleared on Friday of violating San Marcos’ campaign finance law, has raised about $325,100. He also was bolstered by almost $3,800 in outside spending from the Deputy Sheriffs Association PAC.
Kern has raised almost $212,800. He and Desmond have both been backed by the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC, which spent about $201 supporting each of them.
Jacqueline Arsivaud, a member of the San Dieguito Planning Group and chairwoman of the Elfin Forest Town Council, is the top fundraising Democrat in the race. She’s raised about $40,900.
The district covers North County, from Oceanside and Carlsbad to Borrego Springs.
We’ll let you know when big things happen.