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Campbell gets more from donors than Fiorina, but her war chest still beats his

Whitman and Poizner have spent more than $100 million combined, the latest campaign reports show.

May 28, 2010|By Robin Abcarian and Shane Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times

Donors have gone deeper into their pockets for candidate Tom Campbell than for his two competitors for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination lately, but Carly Fiorina's wealth has made her campaign war chest substantially larger less than two weeks before the June 8 primary election.

Campaign reports released Thursday also showed that spending continues to escalate in the record-shattering race for governor, with mega-rich GOP rivals Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner spending more than $100 million combined, mostly on TV ads, radio spots and mailers attacking one another.

The battle over ballot measures is also costing a bundle, with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. dumping $46 million into its campaign for an initiative it launched that could make it harder for local governments to compete with the power company.

"These numbers represent the reality of what it takes to convey information to voters in California," said Darry Sragow, a Los Angeles-based Democratic political strategist. "It's obscene."

In the U.S. Senate race, Fiorina, the multimillionaire former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, has lent her campaign $3 million in the last two weeks, bringing her personal contributions to $5.5 million. But between April 1 and May 19, the period covered by Thursday's filings, Campbell reported raising $989,662 from individuals and others while Fiorina reported raising $909,000.

"For Carly to come in behind us can't be interpreted as anything other than a sign of weakness," said Campbell spokesman Jamie Fisfis.

Both candidates have fallen short of their fundraising goals. Campbell said in January that he hoped to raise $5 million to $10 million. To date, he has brought in slightly more than $2.6 million. Fiorina said last fall that she didn't have millions to put into the race; but she has had to supply them.

In the final sprint, Fiorina has $2.1 million in cash to spend, compared with roughly $400,000 on hand for Campbell.

"We're not taking anything for granted between now and election day," said Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund. "We will continue to campaign hard and are optimistic."

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), who continues to struggle in the polls behind Fiorina and Campbell, raised $514,000 this period and has $276,614 left in the bank.

The winner of the GOP contest will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, whom many analysts view as vulnerable, in the fall. The three-term senator reported raising $2 million, with $9.6 million in cash on hand. President Obama's fundraising visit to San Francisco on her behalf this week added $600,000 to that total.

The spending figures in the governor's contest are even larger.

As of May 22, Whitman, the former EBay chief, had spent more than $80 million to cement herself as the Republican frontrunner through a months-long blitz of TV ads and mailers. The billionaire first-time candidate has spent lavishly, including $530,000 on chartered jets and $665,000 to the firm of her top strategist, Mike Murphy. She has reported contributing a record $68 million of her own money to the campaign.

Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner, has countered with $24 million of his own money — about 90% of what he has amassed. He ceded the airwaves to Whitman until March but has since assaulted her with more than $17.7 million worth of mostly negative television commercials.

As the two leading Republicans batter one another over the airwaves, presumptive Democratic nominee Jerry Brown, California's attorney general, is hoarding his campaign funds and has amassed a treasury of $20.6 million. He spent only $403,000 in the first five months of this year.

"He is a frugal person by nature," said Sterling Clifford, a Brown campaign spokesman. "We can marshal resources until the fall."

Of the five ballot propositions facing voters June 8, the priciest — and most one-sided — campaign has been over Proposition 16. The measure would require local governments to win approval from two-thirds of voters before establishing electricity companies to provide power. PG&E sees those nonprofits as competition and has spent $46 million so far promoting the measure in a blizzard of mailers, TV and radio ads.

The main campaign against the measure has reported spending $77,000.

Another initiative, Proposition 17, has deep pockets behind it. The measure would allow drivers to receive a continuous-coverage discount for car insurance even if they switch carriers.

Opponents say the measure is a ploy by insurance firm Mercury General Corp., which has put $10.3 million into the campaign for the initiative, to raise rates. Since mid-March, only $1,000 of the millions raised for the measure has come from other supporters.

The opposition effort, led by the California Nurses Assn., has reported spending $787,000 this year and has $388,000 in the bank.

Abcarian reported from Los Angeles and Goldmacher from Sacramento. Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.

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