Lawson surges in fund-raising for North Coast congressional race

Three-term Assemblyman Jared Huffman and political newcomer Stacey Lawson emerged Wednesday as the leading fund-raisers in a highly competitive race for the North Coast seat in Congress.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, reported $586,131 in donations last year, retaining his top spot in campaign cash.

Lawson, a San Rafael businesswoman making her first run for public office, collected $455,959.

A third Democrat, Marin activist Norman Solomon, picked up $311,817 last year, and no other candidate had more than $115,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Lawson's showing was a surprise because she does not have a political track record like Huffman, nor the connection to the Democrats' liberal bloc that is Solomon's strong suit.

They are competing in a rare open race for Congress created by Petaluma Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey's decision to retire this year.

Lawson said Wednesday she had "out-raised the entire field" since entering the campaign in August, turning it into "a two-person race" between herself and Huffman.

With the election five months away, campaign contributions are an indicator of political momentum, as well as the ability to reach voters in a sprawling district from Marin County to the Oregon border.

Winning in the 350-mile long 2nd Congressional District is expected to cost more than $1 million.

The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary, regardless of party, will compete in the November general election if no one captures a majority of the votes.

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