Capitol Alert

Harris leads money race, but poor Republicans could propel Sanchez

California Attorney General Kamala Harris reacts as she takes questions from the media after addressing California Democrats in May.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris reacts as she takes questions from the media after addressing California Democrats in May. AP

Kamala Harris fortified her front-runner status this week when her latest report showed she’s raised $4.1 million since entering the U.S. Senate race in January, bringing her cash on hand to nearly $3 million roughly a year ahead of the primary.

Fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez raised $618,000, transferred $516,000 and reported $1.1 left to spend at the end of last month.

Harris, the state attorney general, and Sanchez, a ten-term congresswoman, are running to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, in a state that overwhelmingly favors Democrats.

In a statement, Sanchez called the initial six weeks of her first statewide campaign “hectic,” but said it revealed her fundraising potential.

“Old and new friends have been very generous,” Sanchez said. “The response has been terrific and demonstrates that on issues from national security to economic fairness, Californians are ready for a U.S. senator with my record of experience and effectiveness.”

Still, she must speed up her fundraising efforts, in part to avoid being outspent in what has been a crucial component of competitive statewide races: TV advertising, said Democratic political consultant Michael Trujillo.

Trujillo, whose clients include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of several well-known Democrats who declined to challenge Harris, suggested Sanchez will need to more than double her pace, to $16 million from about $7 million, to run an eight-week TV ad campaign in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“To pull a line from ‘Spinal Tap,’ she is going to have to kick it up to 11,” Trujillo said as the reports trickled in Wednesday afternoon.

But for all the focus on the Democrats, he said, anemic fundraising by the underdog GOP candidates, Assemblyman Rocky Chávez and former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, raises the chances of a November runoff between Harris and Sanchez. A Chávez spokesman said he raised $60,350 and spent $42,409 during the second quarter. Del Beccaro had $23,603 in the bank as of March 31, the latest available figures.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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