Prosecutor Ron Bamieh has taken an early fund-raising lead in his bid to become Ventura County's next district attorney, having already amassed $101,800 for next spring's primary, according to campaign finance reports.
Bamieh received his largest contributions from his wealthy parents and outpaced opponent Greg Totten, who raised $35,000 during the first few weeks of campaigning.
Bay Area businessman Sam Bamieh and his wife, Nida, contributed $60,500 to their son's campaign, which the father estimates could eventually cost more than $1 million.
"Money is the mother's milk of politics," the elder Bamieh said in an interview this week.
A longtime GOP contributor, Sam Bamieh donated $259,000 to former Gov. Pete Wilson's 1994 reelection campaign and was a national finance co-chairman for the 1996 presidential bid of former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander.
Sam Bamieh, the chairman of an investment company based in San Mateo, declined to say how much money he plans to give for his son's race.
Bamieh and Totten, the chief assistant district attorney, are vying to fill the seat of retiring Dist. Atty. Michael Bradbury, who will step down in January 2003 after six consecutive terms.
"I will do whatever it takes to get his name out there so he can campaign hard," the elder Bamieh said. "Ron has the experience, so I feel as a loving father I will help him all I can to provide him resources."
Bamieh Has Money, Totten Endorsements
According to the county election department, there are no contribution limits for the amount individuals can give to candidates running for district attorney.
On Thursday, Totten's campaign director, Chris Mann, said Totten has no plans to keep pace with Ron Bamieh's aggressive fund-raising.
"We are not planning on meeting Mr. Bamieh dollar-for-dollar," Mann said. "We're raising money, and it is mostly people Greg has been close with and I think we are going to do fine."
Bamieh, 35, is a trial attorney who has spent the last five years prosecuting homicide cases. Totten, 47, has served as Bradbury's second-in-command since January 1999.
While Bamieh has begun mounting a sizable war chest, Totten has secured early endorsements from Bradbury, Sheriff Bob Brooks, two county supervisors and every police chief and mayor in Ventura County.
Mann said some of those community leaders have kicked money into Totten's campaign in recent days, but he was unsure of specific amounts.
Campaign finance reports of money raised and spent between the start of the year and Sept. 30 are due Oct. 10 to the county election's office.
Those reports will show that Totten raised about $35,000 during the initial reporting period, Mann said. The bulk of the money, he said, came directly from Totten, who loaned his campaign $25,000.
Mann added that Totten has since acquired an additional $18,000 in donations this week.
Bamieh's campaign finance reports show he received large donations from his parents in late September, about two weeks after he formed his campaign committee.
'We Plan on Raising Substantially More'
Bamieh also received $25,000 from a Stockton company owned by developer Alex Spanos, a friend of the Bamieh family and the owner of the San Diego Chargers; $10,000 from the president of Galpin Motors in the San Fernando Valley; and smaller contributions from lawyers and an FBI agent.
The reports also show that Bamieh has gathered in his first 26 days of campaigning three times the amount of money raised by Bradbury during his uncontested races for district attorney in 1994 and 1998.
"The importance of money in a campaign is to educate voters about who you are," Bamieh said Thursday. "We are still in the process of raising money. And we plan on raising substantially more over time."