California Reps. McCarthy, Pelosi, Porter and Schiff among nation’s biggest fundraisers
As elected officials and candidates prepare for the midterm elections, new financial reports show California members of Congress continue to rake in millions of dollars.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Katie Porter and Adam B. Schiff are among the most prodigious fundraisers in the nation, according to campaign finance disclosures filed Monday.
The reports also offer a view of which candidates are showing strength in districts that are expected to be hotly contested by both parties, including in northern Los Angeles and southern Orange counties.
In statewide contests, the reports largely showed the continued Democratic dominance in Sacramento — notably Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is sitting on nearly $25 million and is facing no real competition.
Building cash reserves before the campaigns enter the next phase is critical, particularly in a state that is home to some of the priciest media markets in the nation.
“California is an incredibly expensive place to run a campaign, and experienced officeholders and candidates know they need a long lead time to accumulate the kind of money that’s necessary to have,” said Darry Sragow, publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, which tracks races.
Pelosi and McCarthy are not facing competitive races, but as congressional leaders, they lead the nation in fundraising, according to the Federal Election Commission.
McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield who many expect to be the next speaker if the GOP takes control of the House as predicted, raised $13.2 million last year. Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, said after the 2018 election that she would limit her speakership to four years. She brought in $12.3 million.
Because they won’t need to spend large amounts to hold on to their seats, they can use it to enforce party discipline — rewarding members who fall in line with them with donations and withholding money from those they find difficult.
Democrats Porter and Schiff, enormously popular among liberal voters, were also in the top 10 fundraisers in Congress. Porter of Irvine raised $10.2 million last year and Schiff of Burbank raised $9.3 million. Both have been mentioned as possible replacements for Sen. Dianne Feinstein when she decides to retire, and those funds could be transferred to a Senate race.
Schiff represents a safe Democratic area; but after the once-every-decade redrawing of congressional districts, Porter’s race is expected to be competitive.
Nearly one-third of state’s districts in Congress would have Latino majorities under independent commission’s plan. The new map also endangers some GOP incumbents.
Her south Orange County district has a 0.4% GOP voter-registration edge. Scott Baugh, a former county Republican chair who is close with the region’s wealthy donors, is Porter’s top rival. He raised more than a half-million dollars within days of announcing his campaign but is unlikely to come close to the $16.1 million Porter had in the bank as of Dec. 31.
GOP Rep. Mike Garcia won his 2020 race by 333 votes, and his seat north of Los Angeles became more Democratic after Simi Valley was removed during redistricting. Garcia has $1.5 million cash on hand, and Democratic rivals Christy Smith and John Quartey each had less than a quarter of that amount.
This is Smith’s third time running against Garcia, and a spokesperson for the candidate said that voters in the district were familiar with her track record.
“More than $11 million has been spent in support of Christy Smith over the last few years in this region,” said Danni Wang. “In this 2022 rematch bid, Christy has unrivaled name identification.”
Garcia, who won his seat by 333 votes, is up for reelection next year in what is expected to be among the most contested congressional races in the nation.
Democratic Rep. Mike Levin’s district, which straddles coastal Orange and San Diego counties, has a 0.1% Democratic edge. Levin had $2.5 million in the bank at the end of 2021, and Republicans Brian Maryott and Christopher Rodriguez reported $1.2 million and $466,000, respectively. Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, also a Republican, recently entered the race and does not have to file fundraising disclosures until the next quarter.
In statewide races, which have higher contribution limits than federal contests, Democrats swamped their GOP rivals with one exception:
In the state controller race, Republican Lanhee Chen had $1.3 million cash on hand at the end of the year, almost as much as Democratic Monterey Park Mayor Yvonne Yiu.
Lanhee Chen, a Stanford professor and GOP advisor, hopes to break the party’s losing streak in California.
In the attorney general’s race, Sacramento D.A. Anne Marie Schubert has attracted significant speculation about whether she can be the first no-party-preference candidate to have a shot at statewide office.
The financial disclosures demonstrate her uphill battle. Democrat Rob Bonta, who was appointed A.G. after Xavier Becerra joined the Biden administration, had $5.2 million in the bank at the end of December, compared to Schubert’s $1 million. Nathan Hochman, a former district attorney who is a Republican, had about $842,000. (Perennial GOP candidate Eric Early has about $139,000 in the bank).
Bonta’s campaign is convinced that his rivals will have to spend their money to advance out of the crowded primary, leaving the Democrat with a heavy advantage going into the general election in November. But rivals believe voters’ growing concerns about crime and homelessness make the incumbent vulnerable.
And there is a brewing intra-party fight among Democrats in the Insurance Commissioner’s race between incumbent Ricardo Lara, who had $600,000 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, compared to Assemblyman Marc Levine’s nearly $1.8 million.
At the top of the ticket, Newsom’s massive campaign war chest may be one of the top reasons why a major challenger has yet to emerge.
The money rolling into Newsom’s reelection campaign came from a broad spectrum of donors, including major contributions from former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, Napster co-founder Sean Parker, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and other Silicon Valley and Bay Area heavyweights. Among the Hollywood glitterati who donated the maximum amount allowed — $64,800 — were filmmakers Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, as well as producer Chuck Lorre.
Although a few of the Republicans who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Newsom in the Sept. 14 recall election said they would consider running, none has joined the contest.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer reported having just over $61,000 on hand, the total in his campaign accounts. John Cox, a Rancho Santa Fe businessman who was trounced by Newsom in the 2018 governor’s race, had less than $10,000.
Times staff writer Phil Willon contributed to this report.
6:22 p.m. Feb. 2, 2022: This article was updated with a new 2021 fundraising total for Rep. Adam Schiff.
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