Gavin Newsom cash leads rivals in race for California governor
SACRAMENTO - Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has far outraised his rivals from both parties in the race for California governor with more money available to spend than all his rivals from both parties combined ahead of the June 5 primary.
Cash is critical to the candidates' ability to get their message out and sway voters, particularly in a sprawling state with a population approaching 40 million and some of the most expensive media markets in the country.
Newsom, a Democrat and former San Francisco mayor, had nearly $17 million in the bank at the end of last year, according to his campaign finance report filed Wednesday. He has another $3 million left from a prior campaign, some of which he can use in his bid for governor.
His main Democratic rivals, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang, had just under $6 million each, though Chiang had $3.2 million left from his last campaign. Former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, also a Democrat, had just $184,000.
San Diego businessman John Cox led the Republicans with just under $2 million socked away. Assemblyman Travis Allen was in debt, with $136,000 in cash and more than $340,000 in unpaid bills. Former Congressman Doug Ose jumped in the race in January, so he did not have to file a year-end fundraising report.
Chiang spent nearly every dollar he raised in the second half of 2017, ending the year up just $50,000 from his position on June 30. He shook up his campaign earlier this year with new staff and consultants.
Newsom spent a quarter of the $4.6 million he raised in the latter half of the year, while Villaraigosa spent about the third of the $2.1 million he raised during the period.
The candidates have not spent much money to date reaching out to voters through television or radio, typically a campaign's most expensive endeavor. Most of their spending has gone to consulting fees, staff salaries, social media advertising, printing and mailing literature, fundraising events, polling and airfare.
The reports show money collected and spent through the end of 2017. Any spending in January, such as a television ad Cox aired on Fox News before the State of the Union, is not reflected.
Allen owed three firms for campaign mailing and literature expenses. Chiang's hefty spending is dominated by staff and fees from a variety of political consulting firms.
The top two candidates in the primary, regardless of party, will advance to the general election, a structure that could lead to two Democratic candidates facing off in November.
In the U.S. Senate race, meanwhile, incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein is far ahead of her rival, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a fellow Democrat. Quarterly filing reports were due Wednesday.
De Leon reported $359,000 in cash after raising $436,000 in the first quarter since he launched his campaign. That pales in comparison to Feinstein's $9.8 million war chest, $5 million of which she recently loaned to herself.
This story has been corrected to reflect more accurate fundraising totals from de Leon. De Leon's campaign said he raised $500,000, but his reports show he raised $436,000.