Last-minute surge of spending in 1st district supervisorial race

A surge of last-minute spending has sparked a final war of words between Susan Gorin and John Sawyer, the two candidates vying for the 1st District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

The sparring has included proxies making independent expenditures on behalf of the two rivals, who are long-time opposites on the Santa Rosa City Council.

The money race has accelerated in the past week, with both direct campaign contributions and outside spending pouring more than $80,000 into the contest to replace retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown, campaign finance records show.

As she did earlier last month, Gorin outpaced Sawyer since Oct. 20, pulling in nearly $17,000 through Thursday, including more than $10,000 from two labor groups, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Operating Engineers Local 3.

Sawyer, who still leads the overall money race, collected almost $13,000 in the same period, including more than $7,000 from supporters with building and real estate interests.

The figures include contributions of at least $500 — one-time or in aggregate through this year — that were reported since the close of the last reporting period.

The last-minute cash has allowed the two campaigns to rachet up their attack advertisements in the district in the past two weeks. The region includes the city of Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and parts of eastern Santa Rosa.

Sawyer has insisted his campaign efforts and those of the groups supporting him have only been in response to a "first punch" thrown by Gorin and her allies.

"I can say without this support I would not have been able to respond to the campaign against me," Sawyer said. "It's only been very recently that we've moved negative."

Gorin disputed that claim and alleged that Sawyer's larger campaign coffers, plus the greater outside spending that has favored him has resulted in a four-to-one advantage in mailers for her rival.

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