When state Sen. Ted Lieu decided to skip re-election and run for Congress, a half-dozen Democratic candidates emerged in the Torrance-area district, but the ones that made headlines turn out not to be the ones who have raised the most campaign money.
Former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and activist attorney Sandra Fluke got much of the early press attention, but in fundraising reports filed Monday, a couple of other candidates flashed the cash to show they also mean to be contenders for the 26th Senate District:
- Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth donated $100,000 to her campaign and loaned herself another $100,000, adding to a total of $382,000 to lead all candidates for the senate race.
- Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member Ben Allen raised $235,000, of which $50,000 was borrowed.
- Surgeon Vito Imbasciani raised $183,000.
- Butler pulled in $152,000.
- Fluke raised $133,000.
- Former Writers Guild of America President Patric Verrone raised nearly $45,000.
The campaign reports, which cover the period from Jan. 1-March 17, indicate which hopefuls are likely to run strong campaigns in the most competitive legislative races in L.A. and surrounding areas, especially in districts where incumbents leave to move up the political ladder.
Term limits are forcing out some longtime legislators, and the races to succeed them feature candidates who have amassed huge pools of cash.
In the San Fernando Valley's 18th Senate District, Sen. Alex Padilla is making a long-planned run for Secretary of State. Former Assembly speaker Robert Hertzberg, has nearly $600,000 on hand for his campaign, making him likely to dominate the race to represent a slice of the valley from Sylmar to Sherman Oaks. Two other candidates, Republican Ricardo Antonio Benitez and John Lindblad of the Green Party, did not appear to have filed an electronic report required of those who have raised $25,000 or more.
Padilla raised $412,000 during the reporting period and has $568,000 cash on hand for his statewide campaign. His main rival, fellow Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee of the Bay Area, raised $70,000 and has $135,000 cash left, but the number that reveals Yee's real financial strength is that he spent nearly $645,000 during the January-March reporting period. Independent candidate Dan Schnur raised $313,000
In the central Los Angeles district now held by termed-out California state Assembly Speaker John Pérez, his district director Miguel Santiago raised more than $100,000 and has some $417,000 cash on hand for the campaign.
Sandra Mendoza, a program manager for the City of Los Angeles, has $107,000.
Pérez is running for state controller. He raised $294,000 during the reporting period and has more than $1.7 million on hand. His main rival, Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee, raised $68,000 and spent a half-million dollars, leaving her with about $100,000.
Ron Calderon is termed out from his Whittier-area Senate seat and had planned to run for another state office, but has abandoned that plan while he responds to an indictment on political corruption charges. Former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza is staging a run for Calderon's 32nd District Senate seat with a hefty $584,000 in campaign cash. Downey Mayor Mario Guerra has about $75,000 cash on hand after lending himself $100,000 this year. Dr. Irell Perez has $88,000.
The primary is June 3. With California's so-called "jungle primary," the top two finishers in each race advance to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.