Donors to California’s rising Democrats include Geffen, Soros, Trump

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris discusses the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8 in Los Angeles. Harris is seen as an up-and-comer among California Democrats.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)
<i>This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.</i>

SACRAMENTO -- Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, one of the state’s rising Democratic stars, raked in more than $1.7 million during the first half of 2013 and has $2.7 million in the bank, according to campaign finance reports filed today.

Her haul outpaces that of a fellow up-and-comer, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who pulled in $392,000 for his reelection from January to June. Newsom has $1.3 million cash on hand.

Harris and Newsom aren’t head-to-head competitors; both are running for reelection for their respective jobs. But Harris’ future ambitions have been the subject of much speculation among political insiders. Newsom himself has indicated interest in running for governor in 2014 if Gov. Jerry Brown does not run for reelection. Brown, for his part, has raised more than $3.1 million since Jan. 1 and has banked more than $10 million.


Both Harris and Newsom had their share of boldfaced names on their contributor lists. Writer/director Aaron Sorkin, music mogul David Geffen and television producer Norman Lear each gave Harris $6,800, the maximum contribution for individuals. Donald Trump, the real-estate entrepreneur who flirted with a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, chipped in $1,000.

Newsom collected $6,800 checks from investor and mega-Democratic donor George Soros and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs.

Among other statewide elected officials, the fundraising ranged from healthy to middling.

Dave Jones, the state insurance commissioner, raised nearly $490,000 for his reelection bid and has more than $919,000 in the bank.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer spent more than $95,000 on campaign consulting in the first part of the year, before announcing in June he would retire from office at the end of 2014. Lockyer’s 2013 fundraising was minimal -- just $13,600 from Mercury General Corp., an insurance company -- but he still has a sizable war chest of $2.1 million on hand.

State schools chief Tom Torlakson brought in more than $182,000 for his reelection committee, and has more than $130,000 cash on hand.

His haul includes $2,000 from Molly Munger, the Pasadena attorney who was the chief backer of last year’s Proposition 38, a tax increase measure for public school funding. Torlakson supported the initiative, which was defeated at the polls.

In what is expected to be a very competitive race next year, Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla of Pacoima and Leland Yee of San Francisco lead the pack in fundraising for campaigns for secretary of state.

Yee reported bringing in $332,136, compared with Padilla’s $290,563, during the first six months of this year.

Among other candidates for secretary of state, Derek Cressman, a Democrat and former director of Common Cause, has been fundraising since June 16 and reported bringing in $57,000. Republican Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University, reported raising about $38,000, including $18,000 from his own pocket.

State Controller John Chiang, who has his eye on the treasurer’s office in 2014, raised $700,000 and has just over $1 million on hand.

[For the Record, 1:44 p.m. PDT: An earlier version of this online article said that both Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom have indicated an interest in running for governor in 2014 if Gov. Jerry Brown does not seek reelection. Newsom has said he intends to run if Brown steps down, but Harris has not.]


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