Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) has almost $345,000 in his campaign treasury, dwarfing the financial reserves of his two Republican challengers in the June primary and the two Democratic candidates who want to face him in the November election.
"Elton's fund-raising is right on target based on this being such a fluid election year," said Ben Key, Gallegly's campaign consultant. "A lot of elected officials are working overtime this year."
Gallegly 48, has socked away the political donations over the past few years and says he may spend it all on a potentially tough reelection campaign this year in the new 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses Carpinteria and all of Ventura County except Thousand Oaks.
Although Gallegly's new district would be entirely in Ventura County, he currently represents an area that includes portions of Ventura County and the Western San Fernando Valley, including Agoura, Northridge, Calabasas, Sunland and parts of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Campaign finance reports show that Gallegly may not face as big of a threat from two political newcomers challenging him in the June 2 Republican primary. Daphne Becker, an Ojai businesswoman, reported her campaign has $4,650 in cash. And Dr. Robert Shakman of Ventura has raised so little money that he is not required to file a campaign financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission.
Democratic candidates are doing a bit better. Kevin Sweeney raised $36,153 and Anita Perez Ferguson $23,650 from Jan 1. to March 31, their reports show. Although the Democrats say they are just getting started, Gallegly's report shows a tremendous head start on collecting contributions to pay for political mailers and other advertisements to reach the voters.
Gallegly's financial report showed that he raised $26,490 in new campaign cash in the first quarter of this year and spent $38,984. Thus, most of his campaign money--$344,858--was accumulated from his fund-raising efforts during his five years as a congressman.
Political action committees contributed $4,349 in the first quarter, his report shows. Only a Woodland Hills realtor contributed the maximum amount of $1,000.
Under federal law, candidates must file reports if they raise more than $5,000. They must include names of individuals who contributed $200 or more, cash from political action committees, loans and campaign expenditures.
Gallegly's consultant, Key, said the campaign has not decided how to spend the money. "We will not take anything for granted and he will continue to work across the district, meeting as many people as he can," he said. "He will have a good grass-roots organization."
So far, Gallegly made a $1,000 campaign contribution to Rep. Robert Lagomarsino (R-Ventura), a longtime incumbent who decided to run in a new district covering Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties rather than confront Gallegly.
"Lagomarsino and I are close personal friends," Gallegly said. "There was a period of concern where we might have had to run against each other. If I ever had a mentor, it was Bob Lagomarsino."
Gallegly's disbursements also showed that last January he paid $750 in rent for his former office in the Erringer Professional Building in Simi Valley, a building he owns along with his wife, Janice.
He said he kept an office in the building "for convenience." But in February, he said he moved his campaign headquarters to another location to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.
"That was a non-issue," Janice Gallegly said Wednesday. "There was no conflict of interest whatsoever."
Becker, one of Gallegly's two Republican challengers, reported receiving $16,300 in campaign contributions. With the exception of a $300 contribution from two friends in Texas, the entire amount came from her own pocket.
"I'm committed to funding my campaign to the tune of $50,000," the 50-year-old Ojai businesswoman said Wednesday. "I haven't asked for contributions."
Her report showed expenditures of $11,650, leaving her with a balance of $4,650.
Shakman, 48, of Ventura, a medical insurance executive and physician, said he did not raise or spend $5,000 in the reporting period and, therefore, did not have to file a report. "I run an inexpensive campaign," he said. But he said that he has been "talking to political action committees" in an effort to raise campaign cash.
Neither Shakman nor Becker have run for public office before.
Sweeney, 33, of Ventura, an environmental activist, reported raising $36,153 in contributions. With expenditures of $12,432, he reported a cash balance of $23,721 for the period ending March 31.
Sweeney's contributor list reflected his environmental and political contacts, made in Ventura and when he was press secretary for Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colorado) during the 1988 presidential campaign.