Calif. AG jumps out to fundraising lead over Rep. Sanchez in Senate scrum

By Anne C. Mulkern | 07/16/2015 07:55 AM EDT

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) in her race for the state’s U.S. Senate seat raised $1.6 million in the second quarter of this year, while her top rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), took in more than $600,000.

Sanchez, who’s in her ninth House term, also transferred $516,114 from her congressional campaign account, meaning her Senate campaign took in more than $1.1 million.

Harris had $2.9 million on hand as of June 30, while Sanchez had $1 million, documents the campaigns provided yesterday said. Harris declared her candidacy in January, while Sanchez jumped into the race in May.

Advertisement

Harris in the latest reporting period received money from a few well-known people, including Lisa Jackson, former U.S. EPA administrator and now Apple Inc.’s vice president of environmental initiatives. Jackson gave $2,700 this quarter and has given $5,000 total. David Axelrod of Chicago, former senior adviser to President Obama, gave Harris $1,000. Kathleen Brown (D), former California state treasurer and younger sister of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gave the state’s attorney general $1,000.

Actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner of Beverly Hills, Calif., each gave Harris $2,700 in April. (Earlier this month, the married couple announced that they were filing for divorce.)

Although Harris has about three times as much money, Sanchez isn’t so far behind she can’t catch up, said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University.

"Clearly Harris has an advantage," Sonenshein said. "But when you’re talking about a candidate who has $1 million on hand like Sanchez does, they’re not in an impossible situation.

"Money matters more when one candidate doesn’t even have enough to be competitive," he added. "I wouldn’t say Sanchez is out of this, but clearly she’s an underdog. Sometimes underdogs win."

California has open-party primaries where all the candidates appear together on one ballot and the top two vote-getters advance, regardless of political affiliation. Harris and Sanchez are the sole declared Democratic candidates in the state that leans heavily toward Democrats.

A few Republicans also are running, including state Assemblyman Rocky Chávez and former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro. Their second-quarter filings were not immediately available yesterday. At the end of March, Del Beccaro had $23,603 on hand, while Chávez had $4,966.

Bruce Cain, a political science professor at Stanford University, said that Harris in addition to having more money has accumulated some big endorsements within the Democratic Party. Those include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

"Kamala Harris has a lot of backing within the party and the party establishment," Cain said. It isn’t yet clear, he said, whether the money difference between Harris and Sanchez right now is "a symptom of problems down the road or if Kamala just got a faster start."

‘Money makes you more significant’

Both Harris and Sanchez will need a lot of money to get their names out in the big state, Cain said. Harris has a slight advantage because she holds a statewide office, he said, but she’s better-known in Northern California and not as well-known in more populous Southern California. Sanchez, who represents a district in Orange County, is better-known in Southern California.

"Both candidates have problems that way," Cain said.

Money in political races also increasingly is seen as a barometer, Sonenshein said.

"Money matters, because money first of all is reputation," he said. "People think you’re significant because you get money, and money makes you significant."

"Money also has the characteristic of just being an indicator that you’re winning, that you’re doing well," Sonenshein continued. However, he noted, "what you really need is votes, not money. Money doesn’t always get votes. Just ask Meg Whitman."

Former eBay Inc. CEO Meg Whitman (R) spent tens of millions of dollars running unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 against Jerry Brown.

Both Sanchez and Harris raised money both from within California and outside the Golden State, with several donors giving the maximum $2,700 for the primary race and $5,400 overall, handing over their general election allowed amount, as well.

Harris’ other big supporters included prolific Democratic donor George Soros of New York City, who gave $2,700 this quarter and $5,400 to date. She received those same amounts from Jeremy Stoppelman of San Francisco, CEO of Yelp Inc.; Donald Thompson of Burr Ridge, Ill., president of McDonald’s Corp.; and Ryan Murphy of Los Angeles, producer of TV shows "American Horror Story" and "Glee."

Political action committee contributions to Harris included $5,000 this cycle and $10,000 total from PAC for a Level Playing Field, $5,000 from Toyota Motor North America Inc. PAC, and $2,500 from the Keystone America PAC. That PAC takes money from oil and gas and utilities as well as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and several other interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Harris also received money from numerous attorneys both in California and in other states, including Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Washington.

Sanchez’s out-of-state donors included Solomon Trujillo of Greenwood, Colo., a principal at Trujillo Group LLC. He gave $2,700. Dale Jones of New York City., chief financial officer at C&D Technologies, also gave $2,700.

Sanchez also received money from several California company presidents and CEOs. Ernest Camacho of Pasadena, president and CEO of Pacifica Services Inc.; Sol Majer of Los Angeles, CEO of Pasadena Park Healthcare; and Wina Tran of Arcadia, CEO of Solstice Medicine Co., each gave Sanchez $2,700 this quarter and $5,400 to date. Christopher Townsend of Newport Beach, president of Townsend Public Affairs Inc., and Joseph Molina of Chino, CEO of Molina Healthcare, gave her the same amounts.

Nedim Sahin, CEO of Boston-based Brain Power, gave Sanchez $2,700 this cycle and $5,400 to date.

Sanchez also received $5,000 this cycle and $10,000 total from the Committee for Hispanic Causes/Building Our Leadership Diversity PAC. She received the same amounts from Border Health Federal PAC of McAllen, Texas. Altria Group Inc. PAC, part of the tobacco and consumer goods giant, gave her $5,000. Edison International PAC of Rosemead, Calif., linked to utility interests, contributed $2,500.