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Biggest spenders weren't all winners in state congressional primaries

Money didn't mean success for some primary House candidates

Some unsuccessful candidates for House seats in California outspent at least one of their winning rivals in the June 3 primary, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed this week.

In most of the state's 53 congressional districts, the highest-spending candidates finished first or second in the June 3 primary, allowing them to advance to the Nov. 4 election under the state's "top two" elections system.

But there were notable exceptions in three races. 

In the crowded contest to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) in the largely coastal Westside-South Bay 33rd District, spiritual teacher and best-selling author Marianne Williamson, an independent, and former Los Angeles city Controller and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel raised and spent the most.

Williamson raised nearly $1.5 million, including nearly $235,000 of her own money, and spent $1.7 million to finish in fourth place. Greuel, a Democrat, who finished third, raised nearly $1.3 million and spent more than $1.2 million, according to the reports that tracked campaign finance activity through June 30. The reports were due by midnight Tuesday.

Finishing first in the primary was gang prosecutor Elan S. Carr, a first-time candidate, who reported raising $820,219 and spending nearly $579,000. Placing second was state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who reported raising $1.2 million and spending just over $1 million.

Carr, a Republican in what many observers consider to be a solidly Democratic district, out-raised Lieu in the second quarter of the year, $434,873 to $359,915, their reports showed. Carr also had more cash on hand at the end of the quarter -- $245,822 to Lieu's $204,438.

With 10 Democrats and three Republicans on the ballot, Lieu had to compete harder than Carr for members of their respective party's votes.

In the hard-fought primary to succeed Rep. Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga) for the Inland Empire's 31st District seat, Republican Paul Chabot, a military veteran, finished first but spent less than three other candidates in the seven-way race.

Chabot raised less than $99,000 and lent himself $66,500; he spent $138,500 on his campaign for the 3rd District seat. The second-place finisher, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, a Democrat, raised $1.3 million and spent about $1 million.

Longtime Miller aide Lesli Gooch, a Republican, spent about $325,000 to come in a close third, while Colton attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, a Democrat, spent around $929,000 and finished fourth.

In the eight-candidate battle to succeed retiring Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Democrat Lee Rogers, a podiatrist who was endorsed by the California Democratic Party, spent just over $577,000 and came in third. 

Rogers' failure to advance to the fall ballot ensures the 25th District seat will remain in Republican hands.

The top-two finishers were former GOP state legislator Tony Strickland, who spent more than $1 million and came in first, and state Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), who spent $173,474, significantly less than Rogers.

Follow @jeanmerl for the latest in Southern California politics news.

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