Capitol Alert

Video: East Bay Senate special cost more than $12 million, final reports show

State Sen. Steve Glazer hugs his sister, Lynne, after his swearing-in May 28, 2015. The special elections to fill the vacancy in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District consumed more than $12 million, final reports show.
State Sen. Steve Glazer hugs his sister, Lynne, after his swearing-in May 28, 2015. The special elections to fill the vacancy in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District consumed more than $12 million, final reports show. AP

The final numbers are in: this year’s special elections in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District generated a whopping $12.1 million in campaign spending, state filings show.

Outside groups bankrolled by wealthy individuals, unions, charter schools, dentists and other special interests spent almost $9.6 million, starting in the weeks before the March 17 special primary and continuing on through the May 19 runoff between Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, the eventual winner.

On top of that, newly filed campaign-finance reports from Glazer, Bonilla and former lawmaker Joan Buchanan show that their Senate campaigns spent another $2.5 million.

Outside groups spent almost four times as much as candidates. Total dwarfed spending in past legislative races. Spending exceeds cost of referendum campaign for Scotland independence

The spending total surpasses the price tags of several costly races last cycle in Orange County, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Sacramento-area 6th Senate District.

It also exceeds the total spending in any 2012 legislative race, including top-dollar Senate contests in Riverside and Stockton and an Assembly race in eastern Sacramento County. In fact, the crew at Capitol Alert can’t recall any legislative contest in recent years that cost so much – drop us a line if you know otherwise.

For comparison’s sake, $12 million translates into $49 for every ballot cast in the two elections. And, for an international perspective, the SD-7 money gusher exceeds the $10.5 million in overall spending during last year’s referendum on Scottish independence (the Scots nevertheless showed more interest in their election: 84.5 percent turnout vs. the 26 percent of SD-7 voters who showed up May 19).

And what did that $12 million get? The video shows where Glazer and Bonilla ran up their margins in the May 19 runoff. In the end, Glazer secured 54.5 percent of the vote.

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