In today's Star, I wrote about the campaign finance reports filed yesterday by candidates in state and county races this fall.
As always, there were some interesting tidbits that didn't quite make the cut for the story that was published on expensive newsprint. For instance...
A SIGN OF STRENGTH, OR WEAKNESS?: My colleague Kathleen Wilson, who covers the county beat, reports that the newly filed documents show that incumbent Supervisor Steve Bennett far outspent retired county fire chief Bob Roper in the June primary. Roper finished second, and the two are competing in the fall runoff for the Ventura-based seat.
The reports show that Bennett spent about $175,000 to Roper's $86,000.
One could interpret that as a sign of strength, because Bennett had sufficient campaign funds to spend near the maximum of $186,000 allowed for the primary -- and still has enough left over to also spend the maximum in the fall.
"We wanted to best communicate with the voters in June and prepare the voters to support me in November," Bennett told Wilson.
Others suggested it was a sign of weakness that the incumbent could spend that much and still fall short of capturing a majority. He finished with 44 percent, to Roper's 28 percent in a four-candidate field. Cal Lutheran University political scientist Herb Gooch told Wilson that the spending suggests Bennett might be running "a little bit scared," and Roper consultant Chris Collier said Bennet's falling short of a majority after having spent that much money "shows we're in good shape."
EVERYBODY LOVES A LIKELY WINNER: One measure of how conventional wisdom assesses the chances of a candidate is if he or she begins to attract campaign contributions from donors who typically give to candidates of the other party. When that happens, it means everyone expects that candidate to win.
It happened in late May and June for incumbent assemblymen Jeff Gorell of Camarillo and Das Williams of Santa Barbara. Gorell, the only Republican Assembly candidate endorsed by the California Labor Federation, received three significant union contributions -- $2,000 apeice from the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and the Association of Highway Patrolmen, and $1,500 from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guards' union.
In addition, Gorell received $3,000 from Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, who is a major donor to Democrats (including Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, who received $3,000 from both Doerr and his wife, Ann).,
More surprising was a contribution to Williams, a Democrat who in his work prior to being elected to the Assembly was a community organizer in Ventura County whose projects included organizing opposition to Walmart's efforts to build in Ventura. But now Walmart has written a $7,800 check to his Assembly re-election campaign. Williams was also the recipient of several contributions from the insurance industry, typically a large funder of Republicans. He received $1,000 contributions from Farmers Group, Blue Shield, the California Association of Professional Liability Insurers PAC, HealthNet and the Personal Insurance Federation.