Once Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was running for reelection, the money spigot opened wide.
Schwarzenegger raised $10 million in the month following his Sept. 17 declaration, according to campaign reports being filed daily with the secretary of state’s office. He had collected $3.7 million in the preceding month and $25 million in the first 8 1/2 months of the year.
“We predicted it would have a positive impact on our fundraising, and I believe that it has,” said Marty Wilson, a top political aide to Schwarzenegger.
As he raised the money, the Republican governor was in the midst of a cross-country fundraising blitz that took him from San Diego to Sacramento to Boston and New Jersey. He also was deciding the fate of hundreds of bills sent to him at the end of the legislative session.
In addition to the $10 million he raised between Sept. 17 and Oct. 17, Schwarzenegger reached for his own wallet and gave himself $4.25 million.
Wilson said Schwarzenegger was using the new money to buy more television ad time and to send mailings as he campaigns for his package of initiatives on the Nov. 8 special election ballot.
Jack Coffey, who oversees governmental affairs for oil giant Chevron Corp., said earlier this year that the company did not plan to donate to the campaign for Schwarzenegger’s initiatives, saying they would have little impact on California business.
But after the governor’s announcement about his reelection bid, Chevron gave $250,000 to the campaign.
“Obviously, if he hadn’t announced for reelection, we would not have given the contribution,” Coffey said.
The governor is backing Proposition 74, to make it harder for teachers to obtain tenure; Proposition 75, to restrict public employee unions’ ability to raise campaign money from members; Proposition 76, to cap state spending and give governors more power over the budget; and Proposition 77, which would strip legislators of the power to draw legislative and congressional boundaries, and give it to retired judges.
Labor unions and Democrats oppose the initiatives.
Coffey said he regards the measures as “ho-hum.” But he views the special election as “part of what will be a long and protracted reelection campaign” leading up to the gubernatorial vote in November 2006.
As Schwarzenegger intensified his fundraising, he was signing and vetoing hundreds of bills affecting the interests of his donors. The California Farm Bureau, for example, gave his campaign $100,000 on Oct. 12, days after he sided with the organization on nine of 10 bills it had cited as particularly important to agriculture.
Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli said the group decided in August to give the money, and that the governor’s decisions had nothing to do with it. Rather, Pauli said, his organization contributed because it backs some of the initiatives and because Schwarzenegger is running again.
“The key to me is, how committed is he to the long term?” said Pauli, who was in Fresno on Thursday to help organize a fundraiser for the governor. “If we were going to make this kind of a commitment, we want to be comfortable that he is going to run an effective campaign and be committed to the longer haul.”
Democratic consultant Garry South said the reason for the Republican governor’s fundraising boost “is pretty obvious.”
Business executives “simply weren’t willing to continue coughing up money,” said South, who represents Democratic Controller Steve Westly in his run for governor. “They didn’t want to be caught out on a limb if these ballot measures go down in flames.”
In the special election, Democrats and organized labor continue to outpace the governor in the quest for money, hauling in more than $80 million for their effort to defeat the governor’s measures.
Schwarzenegger’s $4.25-million personal donation makes him his own largest contributor. But 26 others gave him at least $100,000 each during the past month.
The largest contribution, $1.5 million, came from A. Jerrold Perenchio, chairman of Univision, the Spanish-language television network. Schwarzenegger’s campaign is advertising on Univision.
He received $500,000 from Stockton developer Alex G. Spanos, who, like Perenchio, long has been among the governor’s benefactors.
The governor raised $2.6 million from outside California during the past month. Idaho resident William A. Robinson, retired founder of the air freight company DHL, contributed $1.16 million, while Texas financier T. Boone Pickens donated $500,000.
Douglas Forrester, a Republican candidate for governor in New Jersey, gave him $141,000.