Capitol Alert

Spending by outside groups revs up in California legislative races

Saxophonist Eddie M dances with Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown during a Sheila E. free concert on the West Capitol steps hosted by the Black Legislative Caucus on Wednesday in June 2015. Brown is running for re-election and receiving heavy support from outside spending groups.
Saxophonist Eddie M dances with Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown during a Sheila E. free concert on the West Capitol steps hosted by the Black Legislative Caucus on Wednesday in June 2015. Brown is running for re-election and receiving heavy support from outside spending groups. Andrew Seng

Oil companies, charter schools, construction unions and other special interests have pumped more than $3.5 million into California legislative races ahead of the June 7 election, with more than half the spending reported in the past week.

Through Sunday, the 47th Assembly District, where Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, faces an intraparty challenge from attorney Eloise Reyes of Colton, was getting the most outside spending. Brown has faced criticism from Reyes and others for her votes considered anti-labor and anti-environmental.

A quartet of outside groups backed by Chevron Corp., dentists, insurers and other interests have spent almost $613,000 to support Brown. That compares to $380,000 in spending by Reyes and Brown’s campaigns since January.

The Davis-to-Vallejo 3rd Senate District has had the second-most outside spending through Sunday.

All of the $515,000 spent there has been to support Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, who wants to succeed termed-out state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. Almost all of the money has come from the independent expenditure committee of Ed Voice, a group frequently at odds with California teacher unions. Donors to the committee include San Francisco businessman Arthur Rock, Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield, and Gap co-founder Doris Fisher.

The third-most expensive contest is in Los Angeles County’s 43rd Assembly District, where eight candidates – including five Democrats – want to succeed Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles.

An outside group bankrolled by charter schools have spent almost a quarter-million dollars supporting Glendale Councilwoman Laura Friedman, a Democrat, and opposing Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian, also a Democrat. Real-estate interests and apartment owners, meanwhile, have spent $166,000 supporting Kassakhian.

Find outside spending details in other legislative races at The Money Trail.

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