Capitol Alert

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Controller’s candidates parted ways on voter guide statements

07/16/2014 4:12 PM

07/17/2014 10:19 PM

At a maximum price of $6,250, candidate statements in voter information guides are a rare bargain in California campaigns.

Could the statements – or lack thereof – also have made a difference in last month’s tight race for controller?

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee was the only one of three Democrats in the six-person field to have a statement in the June 3 guide, which went out to 10.6 million voter households. She finished in second, 481 votes ahead of Assemblyman John A. Pérez, a former Assembly speaker who significantly outraised Yee but did not have a candidate statement. Pérez is seeking a full or partial hand recount in 15 counties.

The voter guide statements are meant to encourage candidates to comply with voluntary spending limits set by Proposition 34, a 2000 campaign-finance ballot measure. To be eligible to purchase a statement, controller’s candidates had to agree to spend no more than $5.44 million in the primary. Yee agreed to the limits but Pérez did not.

Pérez’s primary spending, though, seems likely to be well below $5.44 million. Through Tuesday, Pérez’s controller committee had raised more than $2.2 million since January 2013. It had spent about $1 million through May 17.

Yee consultant Parke Skelton said Wednesday he was “stunned” when he learned that Pérez would not have a candidate statement. Yee’s 248-word voter guide statement noted several endorsements and called her “extraordinarily well qualified and a recognized expert in state budgets and fiscal policy.”

“Of course in a race this close you can look to any number of factors that could have made the difference. And a lot of things are beyond your control,” Skelton said in an e-mail. “But I definitely believe a candidate statement is worth 481 votes.

Asked if it was a mistake for Pérez to lack a candidate statement, campaign adviser Douglas Herman e-mailed, “No.”

Pérez wasn’t the only major-party contender to pass on a candidate statement. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, also did not accept spending limits. Swearengin finished first with 24.8 percent of the vote, but was outpolled in many places by Republican David Evans, a California City accountant who spent $600 and had a voter guide statement that said simply, “Most qualified for Controller.”

Capitol Alert staff

Amy Chance
Political editor

Dan Smith
Capitol bureau chief

Jim Miller
California policy and politics
Capitol Alert editor

David Siders
Brown administration

Christopher Cadelago
California politics and health care

Laurel Rosenhall
Legislature, lobbying, higher education

Jeremy B. White

Alexei Koseff
Insider Edition editor


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