This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.
Gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom raised more money this year than his three top Democratic rivals combined, continuing his front-runner status in the money race.
According to campaign finance disclosures that cover the first six months of 2017, Newsom raised nearly $5.4 million since Jan. 1, and ended June with $13.1 million cash on hand. The bank balance reflects the fact that he entered the race in early 2015, far earlier than his rivals.
State Treasurer John Chiang, also a Democrat, raised nearly $2.7 million this year and has $5.7 million at his disposal.
Both men also have campaign committees linked to their current elected positions that each have roughly $3 million, most of which will be transferable to their gubernatorial efforts.
The other prominent Democrat in the race, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, does not have that advantage; he entered the race in November and raised less than his other top challengers. Villaraigosa collected more than $2.3 million this year and has $4.5 million cash on hand.
Delaine Eastin, a Democrat who previously served as the state schools' chief, raised $321,000 and ended June with $107,000 in the bank.
The GOP field has two prominent candidates after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer decided not to run and former state lawmaker David Hadley entered the race and dropped out two weeks later after deciding he could not win.
John Cox, a Rancho Santa Fe businessman, reported raising $3.2 million this year — nearly all self-funded — and ending June with $2.8 million cash on hand.
The fundraising potential of his main Republican rival, Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach, is unclear because he entered the race about a week before the filing period closed June 30. During that brief period, he reported raising $78,400.
None of the candidates reported substantial debt.
For a race that is just under a year away, it is awash in cash. The last time the governor was termed out and the seat was open was in 2010.
At this period of that race, then-Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who would go on to win the seat, was months away from entering the contest. Newsom, then the mayor of San Francisco, raised $1.7 million in the six-month period ending on June 30, 2009. He would later drop out of the race and successfully ran for lieutenant governor instead.
The real action came with the Republicans in the race. Two wealthy candidates were running for their party’s nomination at a time when the GOP still held power at the statewide level, and donors were willing to spend large sums on statewide races.
Former eBay chief Meg Whitman raised $10.8 million during that time period, $4 million of which she contributed to her campaign. Her main rival, Steve Poizner, who was then the state's insurance commissioner, raised $4.6 million in the first six months of 2009, all but $400,000 of which came from his family trust.
The 2010 gubernatorial race would go onto to be the most expensive in the state's history.