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Down the road: Politicians raise money for pending, distant races

Scores of candidates for the Legislature and statewide offices raised more than $60 million for their campaigns during the first six months of 2009 — with some of the money going for races as far into the future as 2014.

The Fair Political Practices Commission, crunching numbers in disclosure reports filed with the secretary of state’s office, said some 214 contenders raised $60,986,380. The figure represents contributions to candidates seeking reelection to their own offices or to other offices, as well as donations to candidates seeking office for the first time, and state incumbents seeking federal office. The amount includes donations to multiple campaign committees controlled by one person. About half the amount raised, $34 million, was donated to next year’s races.

The potential contenders include Jim Brulte, the former Republican leader of the Assembly and Senate, who formed a candidate for the 2014 race for a Board of Equalization Seat, and Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, who is eyeing the 2014 race for the Senate’s 2nd District. Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, is looking at a run for secretary of state in 2014, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, a former Assembly GOP leader, is “pondering” a run for lieutenant governor in 2014.

Of course, the formation of a committee doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is running for office, or even seriously considering a run. But it does a allow a potential candidate to raise political cash and keep his or her options open.

The figure does not include the $15 million loan that former eBay executive Meg Whitman, a Republican contender for governor, made to her own campaign because that transaction occurred after the June 30 deadline. The amount does include the $7.39 million raised by termed-out lawmakers.

“California’s tough economic times haven’t slowed the flow of campaign contributions,” said FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson. “Millions of dollars have been raised for races to be held one, two, three, or even five years into the future, and many candidates, most of whom are current officeholders, are legally raising money into multiple committees for different offices at the same time.”

The FPPC enforces the state’s campaign laws. The secretary of state is the chief election’s officer.

The donations include nearly $89,000 for a half-dozen candidates for the 2014 Senate races.

Senate contenders raised a total of $6.57 million for raises from 2010 through 2014, while Assembly hopefuls raised $12.86 million for elections in 2010 and 2012.


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