Congressional incumbents are comfortably ahead of their rivals in the money stakes this year with local lawmakers Elton Gallegly and Brad Sherman packing fat wallets as the November elections draw closer.
Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) has more than $1.04 million on hand in his fight against Democratic challenger Michael Case of Oak View, who reported $261,204 at the reporting period ending July 15.
Sherman, a Democrat whose district includes Thousand Oaks, had $163,184 in the bank at the close of the reporting period, while his opponent, Republican actor Jerry Doyle of Calabasas, showed $91,289.
Despite the huge gap in finances, Case campaign spokesman Jonathan Brown said he is pleased with Case's numbers. Few of Gallegly's challengers, Brown insisted, have raised as much money.
"It's a substantial figure," Brown said of Gallegly's $1-million war chest. "We knew we'd get outspent, but we've done exponentially better than previous Democratic opponents."
Brown noted that Case raised $400,000 in his campaign and said much of Gallegly's cash is left over from past campaigns.
Gallegly said he has received many $25 to $50 contributions from Democrats and Republicans this year.
"Anyone who knows me, knows I take nothing for granted," said Gallegly, whose 23rd Congressional District includes all of Ventura County, except for the Conejo Valley.
Case's campaign took in $10,000 from political action committees this quarter, while Gallegly's received $74,588.
Case owes $62,000. Gallegly has a $12,764 debt.
Most of Case's contributions are from lawyers and private citizens. Case received $1,000 donations from lawyers, environmental workers and one donor identifying himself as an inventor. Hank Lacayo, head of the Ventura County Democratic Party, chipped in $500.
Gallegly drew donations from many private citizens and sources ranging from Microsoft to the National Cattlemen's Assn.
The lawmaker received several large donations, including $5,000 from a group called the Committee to Preserve Capitalism, $2,000 from the Employees of Northrop PAC and another $2,000 from the National Assn. of Retired Federal Employees. He also received money from Hollywood studios, drug companies and the National Assn. of Convenience Stores.
In the Sherman-Doyle race, the challenger hopes a series of Republican fund-raisers might energize his campaign. The 24th Congressional District includes most of the Conejo Valley and parts of the San Fernando Valley.
"We expect our cash on hand to grow very soon," said Garrett Biggs, campaign manager for Doyle. "We have four big fund-raisers coming."
Doyle, who played head of security Michael Garibaldi on the now defunct science-fiction series "Babylon Five," is expecting Republican heavyweights like Congressmen Dick Armey of Texas and J.C. Watts of Oklahoma along with Sen. John McCain of Arizona to campaign for him.
"I am certain we will raise the funds needed to assure Congressman Sherman can continue his work on behalf of the people of the San Fernando and Conejo valleys," said Kerri Wood, finance director for Sherman's campaign.
Sherman took $46,750 in PAC money this quarter. A number of contributions came from labor unions, including $5,000 from the Machinist League, $500 from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and $500 from the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen. He has also received $4,000 from the Realtors Political Action Committee. Sherman's committee has a $443,511 debt.
Doyle's money came in individual donations ranging from $100 to $1,000. The contributors include actress Melissa Gilbert, who donated $1,000. Doyle loaned himself $80,000. He received no PAC money and has a debt of $80,000.