Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang sent out a plea to his supporters Monday to help him pay down $50,000 in debt left over from his campaign last year.
It is not uncommon for candidates to end up with unpaid debts after election day, but Prang's message struck an unusually desperate tone in an email with the subject line "May Day...May Day!"
"I urgently need your help: despite running a bare-bones campaign, I am left with a campaign debt of $50,000!" Prang wrote. "I must pay off this debt in the next 12 days - by May 1st!"
County regulations require candidates to stop fundraising six months after the election. Prang won the office last November.
Prang said the tone of the email was "a fundraising strategy," but added, "It is kind of serious. If I don't raise it essentially by next Friday, I have vendors who I still owe money to, and if I don't raise the money, it comes out of my own pocket."
The outstanding debt is down from the end of last year, when the campaign had about $130,000 in unpaid bills, including payments for slate mailers and consulting fees.
Prang blamed, in part, the difficulty of raising money for an office that remains little-known despite the fact that his predecessor, John Noguez, was arrested on felony corruption charges.
"There are certain offices that have more sex appeal," he said.
Prang, a former West Hollywood City Councilman who worked as a special assistant to the assessor, won a narrow victory over John Morris, a head deputy to the Los Angeles County district attorney.
Prior to the election, Prang's supporters contributed $713,000 to his campaign and an independent committee supporting his candidacy. Morris raised about $282,000.