Capitol Alert

Millions flow for California job with few duties

Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, during session in the Senate chamber in Sacramento on March 11, 2013.
Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, during session in the Senate chamber in Sacramento on March 11, 2013.

Candidates have raised millions for next year’s race for California governor. Same goes for attorney general, considered the state’s second-highest ranking post.

The lieutenant governor position, however, offers little in the way of built-in responsibilities and is mostly viewed as a stepping-stone for another office. Perhaps that’s why it’s compelling so many candidates to barnstorm the state and badger people for their campaign contributions.

The “lite gov” race won’t come cheap for the Democrats running, as newly released campaign disclosures attest. Sen. Ed Hernandez of Azusa, the only sitting politician vying for the seat, raised and transferred $1.18 million in the year’s first six months, bringing his total cash on hand to $1.6 million, plus another $241,000 in a ballot measure committee.

Eleni Kounalakis, a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary who is touring all 58 counties, took in $1.5 million, including $500,000 from herself, and has $1.4 million on hand. Physician Asif Mahmood, a Californian, a Muslim and an immigrant (he refers to himself as a triple threat) has about $850,000 to spend, and Jeff Bleich, an attorney and diplomat from San Francisco, banked $626,000.

There is less parity in the governor’s race, where Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has amassed $16 million to spend. State Treasurer John Chiang has nearly $9 million, Antonio Villaraigosa has about $4.5 million and Delaine Eastin has nearly $107,000. On the Republican side, businessman John Cox has $2.8 million, after providing $3 million of his own money to the campaign. Assemblyman Travis Allen banked about $77,000.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the veteran congressman appointed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown, scooped up a quick $2.4 million and has $2 million in his state committee, plus $1.45 million in his congressional account, in his quest for a full term. Challenger Dave Jones, the state insurance commissioner, has $3.8 million to spend in his combined state accounts, but he’s got to be concerned about his fundraising pace slowing. In the last six months, Jones took in just $564,000.

And in the contest for state schools chief, second-time candidate Marshall Tuck had just over $1 million to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond’s $861,000. Both are Democrats, but outside spending from so-called school reformers (Tuck) and teachers’ unions (Thurmond) will be the thing to watch.

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WORTH REPEATING: “CA taking jobs from TX. Dodgers acquire pitcher Yu Darvish from Texas Rangers minutes before trade deadline.” – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, via Twitter.

SCORE CARD: The next in a series of speakers brought to the city by the University of California’s Sacramento Centers is Claire Brindis, director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. Brindis will give her lecture on family planning as a method of ameliorating health disparities and assess California’s efforts at assuring access to reproductive health care. Noon at 1130 K Street.

BREAKDOWN: Legislators and legislative staff are welcome to join members of the Center for New Community, the California Immigrant Policy Center and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in their discussion of a report they believe gives an in-depth look into the activities and influence of nativist and anti-immigrant organizations in California. Sponsored by the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the Legislative Black Caucus, the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Legislative Jewish Caucus, the event begins at 11 a.m. at the Capitol, Room 2040.

MUST READ: State worker’s bosses fired him over a medical test. Now taxpayers owe his widow $500,000

RACE REPORT: U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will host a community forum tonight on the effects of President Donald Trump’s policies on the African American community nationally and in the East Bay. Alongside Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, Lee will speak to the Trump Administration’s actions event organizers believe are “actively undermining progress for the African Americans by elevating white nationalists, crippling civil rights protections and eroding lifelines for families.” The forum will begin at 6 p.m. at Castlemont High School in Oakland, at 8601 MacArthur Boulevard. Registration is required.

FILLING OPEN SEATS: Of the 80 Assembly seats up next November, only three open races feature no incumbent running. In the 15th Assembly District in the East Bay, five Democrats are striving to set themselves apart to take over for Thurmond. Former Obama administration staffer Buffy Wicks has just received an endorsement from Newsom. Earlier this week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf endorsed second-term Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb. Jovanka Beckles has garnered endorsements from former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, among others.

TIPS ON TIPS: The Bee’s very own Alexei Koseff, joined by Frances Wang from ABC 10, will speak at the Sacramento County Young Democrats monthly meeting tonight. Their conversation will center on their careers in journalism and tips for how activists can better engage with the press. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Event Center, 1020 11th Street.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago