What the money so far says about the latest Los Angeles congressional race

Clockwise from top left: Alejandra Campoverdi, Yolie Flores, Arturo Carmona, Steven Mac, Wendy Carrillo, Sara Hernandez, Jimmy Gomez and Raymond Meza.
(Los Angeles Times / Handout)

While the early campaign finance filings in the race for the 34th Congressional District give an incomplete picture, they’re also a glimpse into who the powerhouse fundraisers could be and where some local power brokers are placing their bets in a crowded field of 23 candidates.

Many of the candidates hoping to replace Xavier Becerra to represent Los Angeles hadn’t even entered the race by Dec. 31, the last day covered by the most recent reports, and the next round of reports won’t be filed until 10 days before the April 4 special election.

Here’s some of what we’ve learned so far from the small group of candidates who reported raising money before the December deadline:


The front-runners are way ahead … for now

Many have assumed that Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), who’s received dozens of endorsements from Democratic elected officials and party leaders, including Becerra himself, is the person to beat. In early fundraising totals, at least, that’s true.

Gomez topped fundraising totals for the field, bringing in $301,493 and ending the year with $292,935 cash on hand. The fact that he was able to raise a six-figure sum so quickly after joining the race Dec. 5 means lesser-known candidates could struggle to get their message out as widely.

Sara Hernandez, a former aide to L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, also raised a substantial sum, with $200,232 in contributions over the roughly two-week period after she jumped in the race. She ended the year with $194,214 in the bank.

While the other candidates are considerably behind — Alejandra Campoverdi was the closest with $106,304 in contributions — that picture could change quickly over the next several weeks as campaigning and fundraising get more rigorous.

The who’s who of Los Angeles donors

If the early figures are any indication, top dogs in L.A.’s political and entertainment scene aren’t sitting out the race for this rare open seat.

Gil Garcetti and Amy Wakeland, the father and wife of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, have given money to Gomez, who has also received Garcetti’s endorsement. L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield also contributed to Gomez, as did former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who represented Los Angeles in the Legislature.

Former L.A. Times publisher Austin Beutner gave a maximum contribution of $2,700 to Wendy Carrillo, while Renata Simril, a former senior vice president for The Times who now heads the LA84 Foundation, gave $1,000 to Gomez.

Yolie Flores received contributions from top education leaders, including $1,000 from former LAUSD Supt. John Deasy and $500 from Katie Braude, who sits on the L.A. County Board of Education. Marcia Aaron, the founder and CEO of KIPP LA charter schools, also gave Flores $500.

Carrillo also received maximum contributions from syndicated hip-hop radio host Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander and progressive activist Alida Garcia. Hernandez collected $1,000 from former record label executive Mo Ostin and $2,700 each from prominent Arts District developer Howard Klein, his son and his wife.

The candidates who gave to themselves

Arturo Carmona’s $93,164 fundraising total includes $25,000 in money he loaned himself.

Gomez gave his campaign $5,400, the combined maximum for individual contributions in the primary and potential runoff elections, while Hernandez contributed $5,096 to her campaign and Flores gave $1,000 to her effort.

Raymond Meza also contributed $2,700 toward his own run.

Sacramento connections help a lot

Gomez was the only candidate to raise money from political committees — he got a boost to the tune of $38,900 from those groups. Many included campaign committees for his Assembly colleagues, including Democrats Ian Calderon, Marc Levine and Blanca Rubio.

Gomez also received a total of $3,750 from at least five California registered lobbyists, who are barred from giving money to his Assembly campaign account by state law.

Most of the money is from California

Less than 20% of the money that poured into the race as of Dec. 31 was from out of state, according to FEC records. About $590,087 of all contributions — excluding money candidates gave to themselves and small unitemized contributions — came from California.

Hernandez and Gomez were the big winners. Hernandez raised $167,046 from California residents. In-state donations to the Gomez campaign were $244,115.

Campoverdi and Flores, at 56% and 65% respectively, raised the least from in-state donors as a share of their total.

Gomez, who raised the largest amount of California cash, and Campoverdi, a former White House aide and former L.A. Times employee, raised substantial sums from Washington, D.C., and New York.

Biggest spenders come from consulting and real estate worlds

All told, individuals and political committees associated with the consulting, real estate, legal and financial services industries raised $312,805 for the candidates in the 34th Congressional District, according to an analysis by The Times.

Gomez received more than a quarter of his itemized campaign contributions from the consulting category, and other top categories for the assemblyman included healthcare, legal and government professions.

Hernandez raised large amounts from real estate professionals as well as the financial services and legal sectors, while Campoverdi’s top contributions came from the consulting, entertainment and financial services fields.

For more on California politics, follow @cmaiduc.


Updates on California politics