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Money, money, money in California Congressional races

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) isn't facing serious competition in November, so she's using her fundraising prowess to help other Democrats.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) isn't facing serious competition in November, so she's using her fundraising prowess to help other Democrats.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s perhaps no surprise that the biggest campaign fundraiser in California is Dianne Feinstein, who’s spent more than two decades in the U.S. Senate. According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, Feinstein has raised more than $8.2 million this season.

Sen. Feinstein's GOP challenger, Elizabeth Emken, has not yet filed her October quarterly fundraising report. But the Center for Responsive Politics says Emken, who’s run a persistent online campaign, has raised less money than some House members: $189,000.

Feinstein has more than $3 million in cash on hand. That's enough to help out fellow Democrats, including a $200,000 check to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Feinstein is still recovering from having her campaign fund cleaned out last year by Kinde Durkee, described as "the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers." Feinstein doesn't have exact figures for the missing cash, though her FEC statement lists more than $100,000 this quarter.

The most expensive House race is the Brad Sherman/Howard Berman tussle in the San Fernando Valley. In the battle between Democratic incumbents — a result of California's new "top two" system —  Berman has outraised Sherman, with more than $4 million to Sherman’s take of just under $3 million. It's estimated the two camps may spend a combined $10 million by election day.

Other races are also attracting big dollars. In San Diego, incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray and Democratic challenger Scott Peters have raised a combined $5 million, with Peters ahead by about a million. 

The Lois Capps/Abel Maldonado race in Santa Barbara has attracted a combined $4.3 million, with Democratic incumbent Capps ahead of the former GOP California Lt. Governor by more than a million dollars.

In an open seat in Ventura County, the GOP candidate Tony Strickland has outraised Democrat Julia Brownley by more than $250,000 in a race that’s topped more than $3.5 million.

In another open seat in Riverside, Democrat Mark Takano and Republican John Tavaglione have each raised more than $1 million.

And in Palm Springs, incumbent Republican Mary Bono Mack has raised $1.8 million to Democrat Raul Ruiz’s nearly $1.4 million.

There are also some surprises buried in the filings with the Federal Election Commission. In West L.A., Henry Waxman — arguably one of the most powerful California Democrats on Capitol Hill as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — has raised $1.3 million.

But Waxman's independent challenger, businessman Bill Bloomfield, has raised more than $4 million, nearly all of it — $3.7 million — coming from the candidate himself. Despite the fundraising disparity, Waxman's seat is still considered safe. And now Bloomfield's coffers are low: he reported having just over $35,000 in cash on hand. 

Democratic incumbents Adam Schiff, Karen Bass, and Lucille Roybal-Allard in Los Angeles all have decided advantages—their nominal GOP opponents have raised no money.

Conversely, the Democrat trying to unseat Corona Republican Ken Calvert also has raised no funds.