Sacramento mayoral candidates square off
Sacramento Councilwoman Angelique Ashby began her race for mayor as the underdog to a 20-year politician whose last job was president pro tempore of the state Senate.
But on Monday, Ashby secured the endorsement of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, adding to her list of support from some of the city’s most powerful interest groups. Hours later, her campaign reported Ashby had raised $168,105 in the final two months of 2015.
That fundraising effort was particularly strong by city campaign standards, but Ashby still fell short of her opponent, former City Council member and state Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg.
Steinberg raised $242,996 in 2015 for his mayoral run, according to campaign finance records filed with the city clerk. That amount doesn’t include another $1.4 million Steinberg has in a statewide account, most of which is eligible for transfer into a city campaign tab.
Sacramento political consultant Brian Brokaw said “it’s clear that Councilmember Ashby intends to make the race competitive.” Ashby’s fundraising effort compared favorably with other recent mayoral candidates; former Mayor Heather Fargo raised $113,000 in the comparable 2007 reporting period before her 2008 race against Kevin Johnson, records show.
“The Metro Chamber endorsement and strong fundraising numbers will absolutely provide her campaign a boost,” Brokaw said.
Ashby strategist Josh Pulliam said Monday’s filing showed Ashby is “a match for Steinberg in this first critical campaign finance report.”
Steinberg has been campaigning “aggressively” for weeks, despite the fact the primary election isn’t until June, Brokaw said. Steinberg has been a fixture at the Sunday downtown farmers market, campaigned door-to-door in some neighborhoods and held a series of open houses. Brokaw said that work shows Steinberg “will take nothing for granted in this race.”
Most of the money raised by Steinberg was collected in the last month of 2015 and “we’re thrilled with this overwhelming early response,” campaign spokesman Jason Kinney said, adding that Steinberg “will have an unprecedented level of resources” to carry out his message.
Steinberg’s largest donors were the California Nurses Association and the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, both of which gave $11,000, records show. Plumbers’ unions based in Sacramento, Burlingame and Fresno gave a combined $8,300, and the family of developer and Sacramento Kings co-owner Mark Friedman donated $6,600.
It appears Ashby will also have significant resources at her disposal. In addition to the Metro Chamber, Ashby has earned the endorsements of the city’s police and firefighter unions. The local firefighters union gave her $11,000, while unions representing firefighters in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles chipped in $3,300 apiece, records show. Sacramento’s police union donated $10,000.
In a statement released by the Metro Chamber, Ashby asked, “We are at a critical moment in the future of our city. Will we move forward with a vision for Sacramento to succeed and prosper, or will we revert back to the failed policies of the past?”
Roy Brewer, chairman of the Metro Chamber’s political action committee, said in an emailed statement that “it was clear Councilwoman Angelique Ashby is the candidate best suited to champion and support the region’s business community.”
“Councilwoman Ashby has a record of bringing the right individuals and groups together to build consensus and support among an issue or project,” Brewer said in the release.
In an interview, Brewer declined to elaborate on which issues set Ashby and Steinberg apart, saying he didn’t “want to get into the deliberations that were internal to the (political action committee).” The candidates appeared together in two Metro Chamber candidate forums.
The Metro Chamber has a history of heavy involvement in local campaigns; the group’s political committee spent nearly $219,000 during the 2014 elections, campaign finance records show.
Steinberg has the support of another business group, Region Business, and has been endorsed by the Sacramento Central Labor Council and five current Sacramento council members.