Kevin James, an attorney and former talk radio host who has never held elected… (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles…)
Kevin James, the sole Republican among the main contenders in the Los Angeles mayor's race, raised a little more than $42,000 in the final quarter of 2012, but spent more than four times that amount, largely on high-priced political consultants.
James, an attorney and former talk radio host who has never held elected office, spent $178,595 in the fourth quarter, a few thousand shy of top-tier candidate and key rival Wendy Greuel, according to campaign finance documents filed with the City Ethics Commission on Thursday. Greuel has vastly outpaced James in fundraising, raising roughly $630,000 more than James in the same period.
The biggest beneficiaries of James' spending are political consultants, including John Weaver, a top national GOP operative who was a senior advisor to the short-lived presidential campaign of Jon Huntsman in the 2012 presidential campaign. Weaver's firm, the Network Companies, billed James for $78,000 for work in the final three months of the year, and a total of $88,000 for all of 2012.
For the entire campaign, James' expenses also included $122,160 for Thomas Partners Strategies, $68,493 for the Prise Group, $40,175 for Capital Campaigns, $25,586 for Crummitt & Associates, $18,011 for Midnite Oil Media and $10,000 for Venture Strategic.
James' representatives said these expenditures represented a strategic decision to build a robust campaign.
"These investments will lead him to victory and get him into the runoff," campaign manager Jeff Corless said. "He has a professional team that has helped him achieve great success thus far in the campaign."
He added that a fundraising lull at the end of 2012 was to be expected because of the holidays and political fatigue. The campaign has seen a surge in fundraising in recent weeks and planned to start reaching out to voters Monday, Corless said.
In heavily Democratic Los Angeles, James is a long-shot candidate. But his outsider message has attracted attention, and some see a path for him earn a top-two spot in the March primary, advancing him to a May runoff. To do so, James must make sure Republicans turn out while also siphoning support of conservative Democrats, notably in the San Fernando Valley, from Greuel.
Greuel's campaign said James' spending showed that his effort will be futile, not only because of the rate of spending, but because of what he is spending his resources on.
"Kevin James is quickly burning a hole in his pocket, and if he keeps up his anemic fundraising pace, soon he'll be flat broke and in the hole," said Rose Kapolczynski, Greuel's campaign manager.
James' saving grace could rest on the success of an independent committee formed to support his candidacy that can collect unlimited donations.
"It's been fairly clear for a while now that if James is going to make a race of it, it's going to come predominantly through outside spending. The amount he's raised and spent on his own campaign is less relevant," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former GOP political operative. "James can't get elected solely on the strength of Super PAC money, but a well-funded outside campaign can do significant damage to the other candidates."
But Schnur said the amount the Super PAC has collected so far, $200,000, is not sufficient.
Fred Davis, the GOP ad specialist who is running the group, Better Way L.A., said that he remains confident.
"The frustrating thing was the holidays. We really didn't get started until Jan. 4 and 5. It just was a tough time," he said. "But over the last week, we've been on daily conference calls. Things look good . It will be a race down to the wire, we still think we'll make it into the runoff."
Times staff writer Maeve Reston contributed to this report.