Biggest spenders weren't all winners in state congressional primaries

Biggest spenders weren't all winners in state congressional primaries
Spiritual teacher and best-selling author Marianne Williamson, center, raised and spent the most of any candidate to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills). (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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.