A Laguna Niguel councilwoman caused jaws to drop across Orange County on Friday when she filed campaign reports showing she had loaned herself $1.9 million so far in a county supervisor's race.
Cathryn DeYoung reported raising an additional $175,000 from outside donors, pushing her campaign bank account to $2.1 million -- the largest by far for a county race in recent memory.
Of that, DeYoung, a former mayor of Laguna Niguel, had spent nearly $1.9 million as of May 20 for the 5th District seat currently held by Supervisor Tom Wilson, who must step down due to term limits.
She had just $71,000 left to spend in the race against former Assemblywoman Patricia Bates, who loaned herself $278,000 this year and had spent $557,000.
Former Laguna Niguel Councilman Eddie Rose reported expenses of $13,000, and educator Gary V. Miller hadn't filed a campaign finance report as of late Friday.
DeYoung cringed at being characterized as Orange County's Ross Perot, who spent $65.4 million of his own money running for president in 1996.
She said her financial commitment was necessary because Bates had spent about $1 million during her six years in the Assembly to build name identification and voter loyalty.
"You just can't compete against the Sacramento special interest groups unless you're willing to put up your own money," DeYoung said.
Bates reported raising nearly $81,000 this year from outside donors, coupled with $283,000 collected for the race in 2004 and $178,000 in 2005.
That pushed her fund-raising to $717,000 for the race since 2004.
Both candidates have poured money into direct mail and cable television advertisements in the sprawling district, which includes Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.
DeYoung's largest expense was $663,000 to Republican political consultants Arnold Forde and Stu Mollrich of Newport Beach.
If no candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters move on to a November runoff election.