Capitol Alert

Dentists, doctors, unions pour money into East Bay Senate race

Assemblyman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, watches as Sacramento pre-kindergarten student Jordan Phouangphet, 5, adds a cutout of his handprint to an open letter to President Obama vowing to support the president's Early Learning. Bonilla, former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer are three-high-profile Democrats in the March 17 special election in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District.
Assemblyman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, watches as Sacramento pre-kindergarten student Jordan Phouangphet, 5, adds a cutout of his handprint to an open letter to President Obama vowing to support the president's Early Learning. Bonilla, former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer are three-high-profile Democrats in the March 17 special election in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District.

Outside spending groups representing labor unions, dentists, charter school groups and others have injected nearly $1 million so far into a contentious East Bay state Senate election set for March 17.

The 7th district race features a trio of high-profile Democratic candidates: Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo, and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer. More than $800,000 of the independent money has gone to support Bonilla or Glazer.

Some of the spending is apparently taking an indirect approach to influence the May 19 top-two runoff.

On Sunday, the Asian American Small Business Political Action Committee – which received money from labor unions, Comcast, AT&T and Realtors during the 2013-2014 election cycle – reported spending more than $46,000 to support Republican Michaela Hertle of Pleasanton.

Hertle ended her candidacy weeks ago and endorsed Glazer. Yet Hertle’s name remains on the ballot and anything that encourages people to vote for her could hurt the prospects of Glazer, who has courted Republican voters. In a Twitter post Monday, Glazer called the Asian American PAC a “union front group” and its spending “an obvious dirty trick.”

Below are the top independent spenders in the race:

1. California Dental Association Independent Expenditure PAC: $287,000 in pro-Bonilla spending

2. Businessman Bill Bloomfield: $224,000 in pro-Glazer spending

3. California Professional Firefighters: $118,000 in pro-Bonilla spending

4. California Medical Association: $83,000 in pro-Bonilla spending

5. Working Families opposing Glazer for Senate 2015: $64,371 in anti-Glazer spending.

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.

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