A labor-fueled Super PAC has quietly amassed nearly $1 million this year to support Kamala Harris in her U.S. Senate bid against fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez.
The PAC, called Standing up for California’s Middle Class, emerged only a few weeks after Harris announced her Senate candidacy in January 2015. It has received six-figure contributions from the Service Employees International Union and SEIU California State Council, as well as the California Professional Firefighters and California School Employees Association, according to Federal Election Commission filings through June 30.
Stephen J. Cloobeck, chief executive of Diamond Resorts International, is the PAC’s largest individual donor, coming in with a $100,000 contribution. Eli Broad, the entrepreneur and philanthropist from Los Angeles, has written a $5,000 check.
Doug Herman, of the Strategy Group, is the lead consultant for the PAC, which he said will help Harris prevail in the unusual all-Democratic November runoff.
“The mission is to ensure a progressive senator is elected from California,” Herman said. “There is only one candidate in the race that fits that bill and Kamala Harris is the one.”
The PAC had about $820,000 on hand as of the filing period, with the largest payment going to the firm of veteran Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, a senior strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The outside group’s emergence comes as Sanchez, a veteran congresswoman from Orange County, steps up criticism of Democrats favoring Harris, including President Barack Obama. Sanchez also has rolled out endorsements from Republican former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and nationally syndicated conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
California’s New Frontier, a pro-Sanchez Super PAC, spent this spring to push Sanchez into the fall election. Led by Stu Mollrich, who has done work for former GOP Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, it raised nearly $100,000 and made $54,000 in independent expenditures through June 30.
Jobs, Opportunity & Freedom PAC, guided by GOP consultant Dave Gilliard, expressed interest in supporting Sanchez. It took in $25,100 this year and has $44,000 on hand.
Added Herman: “We want to make sure there is no chance for (Harris) to be taken by surprise by Loretta’s GOP outreach efforts.”