Gov. Slightly Ahead of Angelides in Fundraising
Even though he faced no primary challenge, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is heading into the general election with only a modest fundraising lead over his Democratic rival, Treasurer Phil Angelides, campaign reports filed Monday show.
Schwarzenegger spent $16.5 million in the first half of the year, leaving him with $4 million in his reelection campaign bank account, and $1.35 million in unpaid bills as of June 30.
Angelides was forced to spend nearly all his money -- $28 million -- to defeat Controller Steve Westly for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
But despite having little in the bank -- $726,000, with $346,000 in bills to pay -- the gap between the two candidates is relatively modest, in light of a Democratic fundraiser to be headlined today by former President Clinton.
The dinner in Beverly Hills is expected to bring Angelides and the California Democratic Party as much as $4 million.
“Absolutely, I will have resources to compete to win this election,” Angelides said Monday.
Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Matt David made a similar comment: “We’re confident we’re going to have the resources we need.”
Schwarzenegger raised $19 million for his reelection account in the first half of this year, compared with Angelides’ $10.4 million. The treasurer had raised additional money for the campaign in prior years.
The governor’s biggest single expense was $7.4 million for television ads. Angelides spent $21.8 million on television, most of which was used to attack Westly.
The governor also used campaign money to pay Steve Schmidt, his chief campaign strategist, $52,500 a month. Some of the governor’s other expenses include $687 to a company called Love Cigars in Rialto, $4,200 to a website called cufflinks.com and $220,000 to an executive jet company.
“This bodes well.... They’ve frittered their money away,” said Roger Salazar, a California Democratic Party spokesman. The party reported having $8.9 million in the bank. The California Republican Party had not filed its report by press time.
Based on campaign filings, the overall amount spent on candidates and ballot measures during the first half of the year exceeded $130 million.
Candidates for state races and the political parties will probably raise tens of millions before the Nov. 7 election. The final price tag for the governor’s race will surely exceed $50 million -- and could be well beyond that.
“In a competitive race, I think it will probably be more than $100 million -- and political consultants and their families will be delighted,” said Robert Stern, head of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
Of course, Schwarzenegger and Angelides won’t be the only ones spending on the governor’s race. They may not even be the biggest fundraisers.
State law restricts the amount an individual donor can give to a gubernatorial candidate to $22,300. But donors can give unlimited sums to state parties, and wealthy donors and interest groups can spend as much as they can afford on independent campaigns for and against candidates.
Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, for one, gave $22,300 to Schwarzenegger on May 25. That same day, he donated $1 million to the California Republican Party, according to a report Pickens filed. The governor had attended Pickens’ 78th birthday party in San Diego earlier in May.
In the first half of the year, Angelides’ biggest benefactor was his longtime patron and business partner, Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos. Tsakopoulos and Tsakopoulos’ daughter, Eleni, spent $8.4 million on an independent television campaign on Angelides’ behalf during the primary. Several political players who have tangled with the Republican governor during his almost three years in office are sitting on fat accounts. The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the union that represents state prison guards, has nearly $7 million in various campaign accounts it controls or helps direct.
The union has not endorsed a gubernatorial candidate, but is involved in contract talks with the Schwarzenegger administration. The outcome of those negotiations could determine how the union spends its money this fall.
In addition to the governor’s race, several propositions will be on the ballot in November.
In what could become the most costly initiative campaign, oil companies led by Chevron donated $10.5 million in the first half of the year to defeat Proposition 87, which would raise taxes on oil to pay for alternative energy projects. Backers led by venture capitalists and Hollywood figure Stephen Bing raised $4.5 million to promote the measure.
Other statewide candidates will be competing for donors’ dollars. Although such offices have considerable power, candidates for down-ballot posts will probably struggle to raise money in the shadow of the governor and big-ticket initiatives.
“Clearly, the governor evokes a lot more interest among contributors,” said Ken Khachigian, strategist for Sen. Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno), the Republican nominee for attorney general.
Poochigian is running against Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who is far more well-known. Brown, the Democratic former governor, reported amassing $5.2 million to Poochigian’s $3.6 million. Poochigian had no primary opponent. Brown spent $1 million to beat Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo for the Democratic nomination.
Amid all the fundraising, voters will be called upon to decide whether to approve Proposition 89 to create a public financing system for campaigns and significantly restrict the amounts that corporations can spend on campaigns.
Shum Preston of the California Nurses Assn., which is sponsoring the measure, said the heaving fundraising shows that “it is getting more and more expensive to have any say in the political process.” The nurses spent $1.4 million to place the measure on the ballot.
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