Abel Maldonado, who is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in next year's gubernatorial race, finished the first half of the year about $3,348 in debt, while the Democratic governor further padded his multimillion-dollar fundraising advantage, according to financial statements filed this week.
Maldonado reported raising $314,222 and spending $317,570 in the first six months of the year. The Republican former lieutenant governor had $44,595 in cash on hand, with outstanding debts of $47,943.
Between mid-April and June, Maldonado spent more than $185,000 on campaign consultants and another $48,000 on office expenses. His contributions included $18,147 from himself for the campaign's use of his personal airplane.
Brown, meanwhile, raised $2.8 million and spent far less than Maldonado in the first half of the year, posting $31,526 in expenditures and an ending cash balance of more than $10 million.
Brown has not yet said if he will seek re-election, but he is widely expected to run. In heavily Democratic California, even Republicans believe the third-term governor will be extraordinarily difficult to defeat.
Brown's donors include labor unions, Indian gambling interests, oil companies and other businesses. He appears to appeal to the entertainment industry, as well, receiving maximum $27,200 donations each from Hollywood figures Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Kate Capshaw on a single day in June.
Big-name contributors to Maldonado include Bechtel Corp. owner Stephen Bechtel Jr., GOP activist Charles Munger Jr., former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and music producer Mike Curb, who sparred with Brown decades ago, when Curb was lieutenant governor and Brown was governor before.
Maldonado has tied his gubernatorial run to a ballot initiative to repeal California's prison realignment, in which the state shifted responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the prison and parole system to counties.
Jeff Corless, a Maldonado adviser, said the initiative campaign raised no money before the end of June, the close of the reporting period.
Corless said Maldonado only began fundraising for the initiative in July. As for Maldonado's candidate account, Corless said, "The numbers are where we expect them to be at this early stage in the campaign."
That statement prompted an incredulous response from Ace Smith, whose company, SCN Strategies, ran Brown's November ballot initiative to raise taxes.
Smith said on Twitter, "They expected to be in debt?"
Another Republican who is considering a gubernatorial run, Twin Peaks Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, reported raising $83,148 in the first half of the year.
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.