These candidates want to represent 2 million Angelenos. Who’s funding their campaigns?

By Matt Stiles

More than $2 million in campaign donations has flowed into the hotly contested 2nd District supervisor race. The money has come largely from neighborhoods outside the central L.A. County district, according to an L.A. Times analysis, revealing clues about who supports the candidates.

Who’s leading the money race?

Four of the eight candidates in the race to succeed longtime L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas — in a district stretching from Culver City to Compton — have raised donations in the March election.

L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson began raising money last year and has collected roughly the same amount as the other three candidates combined.

The money race remains competitive, however, with former L.A. City Council member Jan Perry and state Sen. Holly Mitchell both raising significant sums through June 30, the most recent data available. Lawyer Chan "Jake" Jeong trails all three. The other candidates didn't report any donations as of the Aug. 1 deadline.

Total raised Average donation
Herb Wesson Herb Wesson
City Council president
$1,119,445 $1,162
Holly Mitchell Holly Mitchell
State senator
564,594 734
Jan Perry Jan Perry
Former L.A. City Council member
509,760 573
Chan "Jake" Jeong Chan "Jake" Jeong
Lawyer
46,100 562

Who raised the most in your neighborhood?

Enter an address or another location to see which candidates led fundraising in each neighborhood.

Jake Jeong
Holly Mitchell
Jan Perry
Herb Wesson

Outsiders, wealthy shaping the race

The candidates' fundraising can indicate support from voters in the district and from deep-pocketed groups, such as businesses and political action committees, that have a stake in county governance.

The candidates draw from different bases. Wesson and Mitchell lead the pack in $1,500 donations from groups — the maximum allowed. Wesson collected 215 such donations, lining up support from the American Chemical Council, the Building Industry Assn. of Southern California and the California Assn. of Realtors. He also received significant backing from unions representing food workers, plumbers, pipefitters and truck drivers, among others.

Mitchell collected 160 large donations from groups, though her top donor list skews heavily toward Sacramento because she transferred funds in late February from her state campaign account to the county race. Donors to that account include Boeing, General Motors and Anheuser Busch. Prominent state-level trade groups include those representing service workers, firefighters and teachers. But it's unclear whether the same donors would support her in a head-to-head matchup with Wesson. Most of her more recent large donations have come from political committees of her colleagues in the Legislature.

Perry has relied more heavily on individual contributions, receiving donations from scores of retirees, suggesting more grass-roots support. Jeong has an even more limited donor base.

These charts show the share for each candidate of donations by individuals and groups.

Only about a quarter of the donations in the race came from the district the candidates hope to represent. Most came from outside, including from Beverly Hills, Brentwood, downtown L.A. and Santa Monica.

The share of money from outside donors varied by candidate, with Mitchell heavily reliant on that pool, given her support in Sacramento. Here's a breakdown of donations from inside and outside the 2nd District.

Which neighborhoods gave the most?

Neighborhood In 2nd District? Raised
NeighborhoodDowntown 2nd District?Partially Raised$148,803
NeighborhoodKoreatown 2nd District?Yes Raised$103,100
NeighborhoodBeverly Hills 2nd District?No Raised$76,330
NeighborhoodBrentwood 2nd District?No Raised$51,299
NeighborhoodLong Beach 2nd District?No Raised$39,748
NeighborhoodSanta Monica 2nd District?No Raised$38,150
NeighborhoodWestwood 2nd District?No Raised$36,000
NeighborhoodEncino 2nd District?No Raised$33,800
NeighborhoodPasadena 2nd District?No Raised$31,055
NeighborhoodSawtelle 2nd District?Partially Raised$27,710

Candidates are chasing an early Wesson lead

The candidates raised their funds differently during the most-recent reporting period, which ended June 30 — the most recent data available.

Herb Wesson

Wesson had a huge fundraising month last December, likely an effort to scare off opponents and cement his status as the frontrunner. Since then, the pace has slowed.

Herb Wesson

Holly Mitchell

Mitchell's totals spiked in February, thanks to the transfer from her state campaign account.

Holly Mitchell

Jan Perry

Perry, who has relied on grass-roots support, finished the reporting cycle strong.

Jan Perry

Jake Jeong

Jeong, a political newcomer who got into the race late, started fundraising in May.

Jake Jeong

The Times sought and eventually received a more detailed version of the data that contained donors' street addresses, allowing for a geographic analysis.

Herb Wesson

Herb Wesson

City Council president

Thanks to his current post, Wesson is one of the most prominent political figures in Los Angeles — not just in his District 10. That shows in his broad base for fundraising.

Wesson raised more money than his competitors in 120 of 185 neighborhoods. Like the other candidates, he relied heavily on contributors who aren't his potential constituents, with only 20% of his donations coming from the 2nd District. Much of the money he did raise internally came from Koreatown and downtown L.A.

His top neighborhoods outside the district were Beverly Hills, Long Beach and Encino — and he received the largest donations on average, suggesting that a larger share of his support comes from wealthy donors rather than from average voters.

Wesson donations by neighborhood

Holly Mitchell

Holly Mitchell

State senator

The totals by Sen. Mitchell, also a prominent politician thanks to her role chairing the Senate Budget Committee, are more complicated. The senator relied heavily on donations her state committee had already received, transferring $380,000 to her county campaign on Feb. 28.

She also relied more heavily than Wesson or Perry on contributions from political action committees and other groups — and a smaller share of her donations came from the 2nd District than those collected by her opponents.

But among the places in Los Angeles County where she did raise money, the top neighborhoods were in the district: Downtown L.A., View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights and Sawtelle.

Mitchell donations by neighborhood

Jan Perry

Jan Perry

Former L.A. City Council member

Perry, a former council member who finished fourth in the 2013 mayoral race against Eric Garcetti, raised a greater share of her money from individual donors — and in smaller amounts — than her opponents, suggesting she maintains a base of voter support from her days at City Hall.

Her former council seat once included downtown L.A., and she raised more money there — $68,000 — than even Wesson, a rival during her tenure. She also collected significant sums from places outside the district, including Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Perry donations by neighborhood

Chan "Jake" Jeong

Chan "Jake" Jeong

Lawyer

A political newcomer who entered the race months into the fundraising cycle, Jeong wasn't able to match the contribution totals of the other candidates.

His top neighborhood was Koreatown. He only outraised his opponents in a handful of neighborhoods, including Echo Park, Glassell Park, Exposition Park, West Carson and Valley Glen.

A larger share of his donation total overall came from the district, but that was only about $14,000.

Jeong donations by neighborhood

About this project

To better understand the candidates' fundraising, The Times obtained 15 years of campaign donations from the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk’s office.

Each of the 77,000 donations were then geolocated — and a spatial analysis was used to assign each to its corresponding U.S. Census Bureau block and neighborhood as designated by The Times. Donations to 2nd District candidates were then isolated and aggregated at each level of geography.

The data, code and documentation is available on Github.