Capitol Alert

Outside spending dwarfs candidates’ efforts in some California races

Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, speaks to the Bee Capitol Bureau on Aug. 25, 2014.
Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, speaks to the Bee Capitol Bureau on Aug. 25, 2014.

Campaign spending by outside groups exceeds candidates’ own efforts in a dozen state contests on Tuesday’s ballot, the latest state filings show.

In the fight for superintendent of public instruction, a nonpartisan post, incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck raised more than $1.6 million between them from Aug. 1 through Wednesday. But independent expenditure committees – largely teachers’ unions for Torlakson and wealthy businesspeople for Tuck – pumped almost $14 million into the contest during that time.

In the Sacramento-based 6th Senate District, Democrats Richard Pan and Roger Dickinson have collectively raised less than $590,000 since Aug. 1. Outside groups bankrolled by unions, the real-estate industry, trial lawyers, oil companies and others have spent nearly $3.3 million.

And in Riverside County’s 28th Senate District, Republicans Bonnie Garcia and Jeff Stone have collected about $471,000 between them since Aug. 1. Independent expenditure committees, though, have spent nearly $2 million – all of it supporting Garcia, a former assemblywoman, or opposing Stone, a Riverside County supervisor.

The phenomenon is most pronounced in same-party or nonpartisan contests. Other races also feature a lot of outside spending, such as the partisan battles in Orange County’s 34th Senate District and the Central Valley’s 14th Senate District, but the candidate committees have raised a lot of money from political parties and other donors.

The chart below shows the 12 contests on Tuesday’s ballot where outside spending exceeds candidates’ fundraising. There is no daily reporting of candidates’ campaign spending, but candidate campaigns typically spend money soon after they get it in close races.

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

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