More than $3.2 million in campaign donations has flowed into the hotly contested race for Los Angeles County’s 2nd Supervisorial District so far. According to a Times data analysis, most of the money has come from outside the district, which stretches from Culver City to Compton, revealing clues about the candidates’ bases of support.
Who’s leading the money race?
Six of the seven candidates vying to succeed longtime L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas have raised donations for the March 3 primary election.
Councilman Herb Wesson began raising money in late 2018 and has collected the most. But former Councilwoman Jan Perry and state Sen. Holly Mitchell also have pulled in significant sums through mid-February.
Lawyer Chan “Jake” Jeong trails all three candidates, as do relative newcomers to the race — Jorge Nuño, a small-business owner, and Albert Robles, the mayor of Carson. Other declared candidates have not reported any donations.
Who raised the most in your ZIP Code?
See which candidate led fundraising in your area — and how much your neighbors have donated.
The donors who are shaping the race
Fundraising can indicate support from voters and from deep-pocketed groups, such as businesses and political action committees, with a stake in county governance.
Wesson and Mitchell lead the pack in $1,500 donations — the maximum allowed. Wesson collected 700 such donations, lining up support from individuals but also the American Chemical Council, the Building Industry Assn. of Southern California and the California Assn. of Realtors.
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He also received significant backing from unions representing food workers, plumbers, pipe fitters and truck drivers, among others. The Democratic Party of Los Angeles County endorsed him after a brief controversy over the process.
Mitchell collected more than 300 large donations, though her top donor list skews more 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.
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 of donations for each candidate by individuals and groups.
Only about a third of the donations to candidates in the race came from within the district, but donors from in-district ZIP Codes in Koreatown, Leimert Park and Ladera Heights gave in hefty amounts. The rest of the donations came from ZIP Codes in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, downtown L.A. and Santa Monica, among other deep-pocketed places.
The share of money donated by those who live outside the district varied by candidate, with Mitchell heavily reliant on that pool, given her status in the state Senate. Here’s a breakdown of donations from ZIP Codes that are inside and outside the 2nd Supervisorial District.
Which areas in L.A. gave the most?
|ZIP Code||Neighborhood(s)||In 2nd District?||Raised|
|ZIP Code95814||NeighborhoodSacramento||2nd District?No||Raised$101,450|
|ZIP Code90010||NeighborhoodKoreatown||2nd District?Yes||Raised$86,650|
|ZIP Code90049||NeighborhoodBrentwood||2nd District?No||Raised$68,199|
|ZIP Code90210||NeighborhoodBeverly Hills||2nd District?No||Raised$62,080|
|ZIP Code90017||NeighborhoodDowntown; Westlake South||2nd District?Partially||Raised$61,203|
|ZIP Code90024||NeighborhoodWestwood||2nd District?No||Raised$53,350|
|ZIP Code90008||NeighborhoodLeimert Park; Baldwin Hills||2nd District?Yes||Raised$52,837|
|ZIP Code90020||NeighborhoodWindsor Square; Koreatown||2nd District?Partially||Raised$49,250|
|ZIP Code90019||NeighborhoodMid-Wilshire||2nd District?Yes||Raised$47,505|
|ZIP Code90056||NeighborhoodLadera Heights||2nd District?Yes||Raised$47,195|
Independent expenditures playing a major role
In addition to direct contributions, both Wesson and Mitchell have benefited from outside groups making independent expenditures to support their campaigns. Those donations weren’t included in this analysis.
But some details are available in paper forms filed with the county.
The Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs State PAC donated $500,000 to a committee supporting Wesson’s campaign. Service Employees International Union Local 721 gave $400,000.
A group called Working Families for Holly Mitchell for County Supervisor 2020, which appears to be funded mostly by large donations from individuals, has spent $200,000 on her behalf.
Major candidates chasing early Wesson lead
The candidates also went about fundraising differently over the last year. The latest campaign finance reporting period ended Feb. 15; these are the most recent data available.
After Wesson had a huge month of fundraising in December 2018, a likely effort to cement his status as an early front-runner, his pace remained mostly steady last year.
Mitchell’s totals spiked in February 2019, thanks to the transfer from her state campaign account. She raised a few hundred thousand dollars in the fall, however, boosting her year-end total.
Perry, who has relied on grass-roots support, finished the reporting cycle strong. Her fundraising slowed after her best month — May — but she also had a strong December.
Jeong, a political newcomer who got into the race late, started fundraising in May. He hasn’t been able to build a war chest like his more established opponents.
Timeline charts for Robles and Nuño were excluded because of their relatively low donations.
Herb WessonL.A. City Council member
Thanks to his longtime post as City Council president, Wesson is one of the most prominent political figures in Los Angeles — not just in his current district. That shows in his broad base for fundraising.
Wesson raised more money than his competitors in 41% of L.A. County’s ZIP Codes. Like the other candidates, he relied heavily on contributors who aren’t his potential constituents, with only about 40% of his donations coming from the 2nd Supervisorial District. His most lucrative ZIP Codes were in Koreatown, which is in the district, but also Beverly Hills and downtown L.A.
Among the major candidates, he also received the largest donations on average, suggesting that a greater share of his support comes from wealthy donors rather than from middle-class and low-income voters.
Wesson donations by neighborhood
Holly MitchellState senator
The totals for Mitchell are more complicated. The senator relied heavily on donations that her state committee had already received, transferring $380,000 to her county campaign last February.
Mitchell also relied more heavily than Wesson or Perry on contributions outside the district. Among the places in Los Angeles County where she did raise money, the top ZIP Codes were in Beverly Hills and Cheviot Hills. But she also raised money from potential voters in the district in downtown L.A., View Park-Windsor Hills and Ladera Heights.
Mitchell donations by neighborhood
Jan PerryFormer L.A. City Council member
Perry, a former councilwoman who finished fourth in the 2013 mayoral race that put Eric Garcetti in office, raised a greater share of her money from individual donors — and in smaller amounts — than her biggest opponents, suggesting she maintains a base of support from her days at City Hall.
Her former council district once included downtown L.A., and she raised large amounts there but also Koreatown and Leimert Park. She collected significant sums from places outside the 2nd Supervisorial District, including Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Perry donations by neighborhood
Chan “Jake” JeongLawyer
A political newcomer who entered the race months into the fundraising cycle, Jeong hasn’t been able to match the contribution totals of the other candidates.
His top neighborhood was Koreatown. He outraised his opponents in only a handful of ZIP Codes, including Echo Park, Glassell Park, Exposition Park, West Carson and Valley Glen.
A larger share of his donations overall — about $66,150 — came from inside the district.
Jeong donations by neighborhood
Albert RoblesCarson mayor
Robles is the mayor of Carson, which is in the district. He began raising money late in the cycle, collecting $40,000 in December. But his top fundraising ZIP Code — 92660 — was in Orange County.
Robles donations by neighborhood
Jorge NuñoSmall-business owner
Jorge Nuño owns a graphic design company and is a “social entrepreneur” from South-Central L.A. He got into the fundraising race late and hasn’t collected much to help his campaign.
Nuño donations by neighborhood
About this project
To better understand the candidates’ fundraising, The Times obtained more than a decade of campaign donation records from the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk’s office.
Each of the 82,000 individual donations was 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.
In the race for the 2nd Supervisorial District, the candidates’ fundraising totals were analyzed by ZIP Codes alone, based on boundaries defined by L.A. County, because officials haven’t yet released a donations database with full addresses. ZIP Codes that are within or intersect with the district were considered "inside."
The data, code and documentation is available on Github.
Times data journalist Ryan Menezes contributed to this story.