State Senate President Kevin de León was always going to face an uphill climb in his race to unseat five-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein. But the scale of the challenge came into sharp relief on Wednesday.
De León’s campaign revealed his first round of fundraising numbers since launching his Senate bid in mid-October. Through the end of the year, he raised roughly $500,000 and had $359,000 cash on hand.
It’s a respectable amount of money for a challenger to raise, but it leaves him facing a massive resource gap in the race against his fellow Democrat. Feinstein’s campaign announced earlier this month that she raised $1 million in the last three months of the year, and kicked in another $5 million of her own personal funds. Feinstein regularly ranks among the wealthiest lawmakers in Congress, largely thanks to her husband, Richard Blum, who runs his own private equity firm.
In total, Feinstein started 2018 with nearly $10 million in her campaign account, which will give her a huge leg up on de León in California’s pricey media markets.
In a statement announcing de León’s fundraising, Campaign Manager Courtni Pugh played down Feinstein’s financial advantage. “Senator Feinstein’s millions – even with a sizable chunk of her own personal wealth – cannot buy a record like Kevin de León’s. He is the only candidate in this race that supports Medicare-for-all, and has enacted historic protections for California’s immigrant communities and policies combating climate change.”
Feinstein’s campaign did not mention de León in its fundraising release. Instead, she thanked “the thousands of Americans who are supporting my re-election so I can continue fighting for California values against Trump’s dangerous and divisive agenda.”
More details about both campaigns’ finances will be available when the Federal Election Commission website posts their year-end fundraising reports, which were due to the agency by Wednesday night.