Capitol Alert

Outside money talked in legislative races this month

Campaigns for state contests on the Nov. 4 ballot featured more than $50.6 million in outside spending by oil companies, unions and trade groups in the months before the election, with almost $33 million of that spent in races for the Assembly and state Senate, according to the latest state filings.

Did all the TV ads, mailers and other advocacy efforts work? Of the 15 legislative candidates getting the most outside help, 10 ended up winning their races.

In Sacramento’s 6th Senate District, independent expenditure committees bankrolled by doctors, health care unions and business interests spent more than $3.4 million supporting Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, or opposing Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento. That compares to $264,000 spent by outside groups to get Dickinson elected. Pan won the race by more than 7 percentage points.

It played out differently in Riverside County’s 28th Senate District. Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia was the intended beneficiary of almost all the $2 million in outside spending in that contest. But she lost to county Supervisor Jeff Stone by more than 9,000 votes.

The campaign with the most outside spending wasn’t for the Legislature: The battle for California superintendent of public instruction had more than $15.9 million in independent expenditures. Schools executive Marshall Tuck benefited from $10.2 million in outside spending in his loss to incumbent Tom Torlakson, who had $5.63 million.

The overall total also doesn’t include what outside interests spent in the state’s congressional contests. So-called Super PACs spent more than $26 million in California races since the June primary, according to federal reports. More than $13 million of that money went into Sacramento County’s 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Ami Bera narrowly won re-election over Doug Ose.

Editor’s Note: The accompanying map of independent expenditures in legislative races leading up to Nov. 4 election incorrectly lists Republican Ling-Ling Chang as the winner in the 65th Assembly District. Republican Young Kim won in the 65th and Chang won in the adjacent 55th Assembly District. The total amount spent in the 65th district was $961,731 – $922,377 for Sharon Quirk-Silva and $39,553 for Kim.

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