Rookie Assemblymember Patty Lopez, a political novice who captured the 39th Assembly District in a dramatic upset, is being outspent 10-to-1 by her opponent – the same person she beat two years ago for the San Fernando Valley seat.
The race is one of the most closely watched contests in this year’s legislative campaign cycle.
Through late last month, Lopez and Raul Bocanegra, both Democrats, were burning through what money they have: She has spent about $53,000, about $4,000 more than she has raised, while he has spent $546,000, leaving about $8,000 in his campaign kitty
Outside spending by independent expenditure committees totals some $310,000, with more than half that amount — $175,000 – in the past week alone, according to figures compiled by an online campaign finance monitoring program of the Sacramento Bee. The outside spending figures reflect activity through Thursday, May 5.
The four top IE committees active in the race are spending on behalf of Bocanegra. They include $166,000 from a group called Keep California Golden, which received $25,000 from PG&E, $5,000 from Philip Morris USA, $50,000 from the real estate brokers.
Another top IE spender supporting Bocanegra is Californians to Restore California’s Middle Class, which donated $126,000. The group’s supporters include major oil companies, including Chevron Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Companies.
Lopez’s smaller campaign contributions include a number of donations from labor groups and others, including the California Nurses Association, the prison correctional officers and the Consumer Attorneys of California. During the campaign, she was fined $400 by the state’s political watchdog for missing filing deadlines.
Lopez defeated Bocanegra by about 467 votes out of more than 45,000 votes cast in the November 2014 general election. The final vote, which shocked political observers throughout the state for its razor-thin margin, took weeks to tally.
At the time of his defeat, Bocanegra was viewed as a member of the leadership team and possible future speaker.
There are four other contenders in the 39th AD contest, all Democrats. The “top two” primary means that the two candidates with the most votes will face each other in November. That means Bocanegra and Lopez — the likely top-two vote-getters in the primary — may square off again in November.