Capitol Alert

Padilla gets help from union-backed committee in secretary of state’s race

State Sen. Alex Padilla, center, listens to Republican think tank leader Pete Peterson, right, as they participate in a debate presented by The Public Policy Institute of California at the Sheraton Hotel Thursday last month.
State Sen. Alex Padilla, center, listens to Republican think tank leader Pete Peterson, right, as they participate in a debate presented by The Public Policy Institute of California at the Sheraton Hotel Thursday last month. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

A union-funded independent expenditure committee Wednesday reported spending almost $170,000 on online ads to help elect state Sen. Alex Padilla as California secretary of state, the most independent spending by far in any Nov. 4 partisan statewide contest.

A September Field Poll showed Padilla, D-Los Angeles, with a seven-point lead over Republican Pete Peterson, the director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University. In addition, only 7 percent of Californians even know that the secretary of state’s office manages California elections, according to a recently released survey by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, the sponsor of the Committee for Working Families, said the group thought Padilla’s candidacy needed a boost.

“We really didn’t see that there was a big focus on the secretary of state’s race,” Smith said. “Historically low turnout is obviously a concern in a number of races, including the secretary of state’s race.”

The independent spending for Padilla is a sliver of the more than $17.6 million in independent expenditures in Nov. 4 campaigns through Wednesday. There has been almost $4.3 million in outside spending in the race for superintendent for public instruction between incumbent Tom Torlakson and former schools executive Marshall Tuck.

Orange County’s 34th Senate District contest had about $2.5 million in outside spending, followed by about $1.1 million in independent expenditures in the Sacramento-centered 6th Senate District.

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

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