Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to business leaders at a California Chamber of Commerce… (Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo )
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has amassed a political war chest of more than $10 million for a potential reelection effort next year, far outpacing two possible GOP rivals and putting him in a strong position if he decides to seek a fourth term as California's governor.
Brown has an additional $3 million left over from the campaign to pass his tax measure, Proposition 30, last fall, according to reports filed with the state Wednesday.
Each of Brown's two potential GOP rivals has less than $50,000 in campaign cash.
Abel Maldonado, the former lieutenant governor who also served in the Legislature, has just $45,000 on hand.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), another potential Brown challenger, reported just $27,000 in the bank.
Brown's position heading into 2014 is vastly different from what it was in 2010, when Democrats worried that the then-attorney general was not raising money fast enough to compete with Republican billionaire Meg Whitman. (In the end, Brown spent about $36 million compared to Whitman's $177 million.)
As the incumbent, Brown would start a potential 2014 run with favorable approval ratings and no declared opponents, in addition to his campaign money.
"Jerry Brown was elected by 13 points in a year when Republicans won 63 House seats and he had an opponent spending $180 million against him," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and former chief speechwriter for Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. "The motto of his reelection campaign could be, 'What, me worry?' "
Another Republican, millionaire and former Goldman Sachs executive and investment manager Neel Kashkari, is also considering the race and has the ability to fund his own campaign but has not yet opened a campaign account.
Races are shaping up for other statewide seats next year as well. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris took in more than $1.7 million for a 2014 run and has $2.7 million in the bank. Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom raised nearly $390,000 between January and June.
For what is expected to be a highly competitive race for secretary of state, Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla of Pacoima and Leland Yee of San Francisco lead the pack in fundraising this year. Yee reported bringing in $330,000 compared to Padilla's $285,000.
Another Democrat, Derek Cressman, a former director of watchdog group Common Cause, has been fundraising since June 16, bringing in $57,000. Republican Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University, a public policy think tank, reported raising about $41,000 and contributing $18,000 from his own pocket.
For state controller, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) reported raising $62,650. He also brought in $30,147 for a possible Assembly run, in a district now held by Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who raised $90,000. Calderon won't have to choose which office to run for until later this year.
Calderon's campaign-fund expenditures have been in the spotlight since the FBI raided his Capitol office June 4 as part of a corruption investigation. In his Wednesday reports, Calderon said he used $6,700 in campaign funds to pay for a "cultural exchange trip" to Cuba in the spring, including $2,650 in airfare paid to Virgin America.
Other campaign expenses included $9,600 in golf fees for a fundraiser at the Edgewood Tahoe golf course and $1,560 for tickets to the Grammy Awards.
Phillip Ung of Common Cause said that in his view, candidates should be restricted to one campaign committee per election. In addition, he said, spending on luxury trips raises eyebrows.
The Legislature and state ethics authorities "need to adopt stronger restrictions on how campaign funds can be spent," Ung said.
All elected state officials were required to file campaign fundraising and spending reports with the secretary of state by midnight Wednesday covering the first six months of this year. The reports shed light on how industries lobbying the Legislature favor lawmakers with contributions.
The oil industry was a gusher of campaign cash as lawmakers sidelined all but one bill to regulate the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process in which water and chemicals are injected into the ground to break up rock and free oil and gas. The only bill left, SB 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly.
Chevron Corp. made a total of $569,000 in campaign donations, including 50 checks to legislators and $135,000 to the California Democratic Party. Plains Exploration and Production handed out $25,500. The Pavley bill's stated opponents include the American Chemistry Council, which made $38,900 in campaign contributions, including checks to 13 Assembly members, and the California Independent Petroleum Assn., which contributed $16,900 to several lawmakers.
Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.