D.A. Jill Ravitch leads opponent in campaign fundraising

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch raised nearly twice the cash contributions as her campaign rival, Deputy District Attorney Victoria Shanahan, in the six-month period ending last month.

Ravitch collected $43,000 from donors including businessman Henry Trione, members of Congress and the Sonoma County Alliance political action committee, bringing her cash total for 2013 to about $86,000, according to reports released Jan. 31.

Shanahan, who announced her candidacy in the June 3 race in August, raised about $22,000 in cash, largely from past and present co-workers, family members and local attorneys, including Clay and Kim Clement.

Political watchers said the totals suggest less interest in the race than in previous years, where candidates raised a combined $250,000. Petaluma political analyst Brian Sobel said Ravitch's 4-to-1 fundraising edge was predictable given her incumbent status.

"Nobody sees this as a race to watch," Sobel said. "There isn't enough there there."

Dave McCuan, a Sonoma State University political science professor, agreed people are contributing to other races that are seen as more hotly contested.

But McCuan said that could change if Ravitch makes a decision before June 3 about whether to charge a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez. Shanahan recently criticized Ravitch's handling of the controversial case, saying she lacked speed and transparency in reaching a decision.

McCuan said a ruling within the recommended 90-day timeframe could "set fire to this race."

"It could change the dynamics," McCuan said. "It's no longer about inside baseball. This election quickly becomes who can out-raise the other."

Meanwhile, Ravitch said the donations she's received are an acknowledgment of her good work. She said they come from people who "make up the fabric" of Sonoma County, including friends, colleagues and former students at Empire College School of Law. Among her contributors were family members, judges and county department heads, finance reports show.

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