SACRAMENTO -- Charles Munger Jr., one of California Republicans' biggest donors, is chipping in some of his wealth to ensure his party has candidates on the ballot in more Assembly districts.
Several Republican candidates received Munger contributions ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, and some of them said the money helped cover the cost of filing to run in this year's election.
The donations were dispersed right around the filing deadline March 7 and went to candidates in blue districts where most are facing off with Democratic incumbents.
Oliver Ponce, a 22-year-old government student at Sacramento State who's seeking the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), said Munger's contributions are encouraging candidates to compete in tough races.
"In a lot of these districts, there are Democratic strongholds," he said. "Sometimes there's resignation and complacency. [Republicans] feel they don't have much of a chance."
Ponce said Munger's $1,000 donation helped pay his $952 filing fee, and said Munger's contributions to candidates are "helping grow the party."
Munger did not respond to a request for comment. Republicans are hoping to chip away at the Democrats' two-thirds majority in the Assembly this year.
Joe Gardner, a retired policeman running for the second time against Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), said he met Munger at the recent Republican convention in Burlingame.
"He took an interest in my campaign for the few minutes I talked with him," Gardner said.
His filing fee was about $850, and he said Munger's donation "was timely to help pay our fee and also do outreach efforts."
Dorothy Pineda, who fell short in last year's special election in her Inland Empire Assembly district, is running again to oust Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Ponoma).
She said she didn't need Munger's $1,000 contribution to pay her filing fee.
"I've never had any conversations with him ever," Pineda said.
Sol Jobrack, who works for his local rail commission in the Central Valley and is running against Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), said he reached out to Munger when he began planning his campaign.
"He's a moderate Republican and I'm a moderate guy," he said.
Munger followed through with $3,000, which arrived soon after Jobrack paid his filing fee out of his own pocket.