Capitol Alert

Outside spending in California state elections nears $32 million

Marshall Tuck, a former charter schools executive, is trying to unseat incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in the Nov. 4 election. Outside groups have spent almost $10 million in the race through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Marshall Tuck, a former charter schools executive, is trying to unseat incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in the Nov. 4 election. Outside groups have spent almost $10 million in the race through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) AP

Oil companies, unions, hospitals and other political special interests have pumped more than $31.4 million into California statewide and legislative contests on the Nov. 4 ballot, state independent expenditure filings through Wednesday show.

Four of the top-five contests in outside spending are nonpartisan races or feature candidates of the same party: superintendent of public instruction ($9.95 million for or against Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson in the nonpartisan race), the Sacramento-based 6th Senate District ($2.65 million for or against Democrats Richard Pan and Roger Dickinson), Los Angeles’ 64th Assembly District ($1.6 million for or against Democrats Prophet Walker and Mike Gipson) and Riverside County’s 28th Senate District ($1.44 million for or against Republicans Bonnie Garcia and Jeff Stone.)

Other Sacramento-area contests also have attracted significant outside spending. In the Sacramento-West Sacramento 7th Assembly District race between Democrats Steve Cohn and Kevin McCarty, independent groups reported spending almost $229,000 through Wednesday. In the Sacramento-to-Lodi 9th Assembly District contest between Democrats Jim Cooper and Darrell Fong, outside spending tops $975,000.

The chart below shows the contests that have had the most independent expenditures.

The total outside spending this fall already far exceeds independent expenditures leading up to the June 3 primary election, with still nearly two weeks to go before the Nov. 4 ballot.

Through Wednesday, the top independent spending committees are Parents and Teachers for Tuck for State Superintendent 2014 ($7.5 million); Charles Munger Jr.’s Spirit of Democracy California ($1.9 million); the business-backed California Alliance for Progress and Education ($1.8 million); union-sponsored Working Families for Solorio Senate 2014 ($1.6 million); and the California Teachers Association-led Torlakson for Superintendent of Public Instruction 2014 ($1.56 million).

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

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