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Special Interest Money Seeping Into California Assembly, Senate Races




The California state capitol building in Sacramento.
The California state capitol building in Sacramento.
Lori Galarreta/KPCC

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CalMatters reporters have been tracking money that interest groups are giving to independent expenditure committees in California’s Assembly and Senate races, with more than $31 million in unrestricted political spending spent since the start of the current election cycle.

Oil and gas companies are spending to help three Southern California Republicans hold onto or secure swing seats: Sen. Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita, and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, who is running for an open Senate seat representing the San Bernardino Valley area.

According to CalMatters, the largest single beneficiary of health care industry independent spending has been Democrat Efren Martinez, who is challenging Democratic Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer. Kidney dialysis companies, correctional officers, educational nonprofit EdVoice, and trade groups representing the pharmaceutical industry have spent thousands backing Martinez, while teachers and other organized labor unions have financially supported incumbent Jones-Sawyer. 

Teacher unions are also financing in the hopes of flipping two Orange County-based Senate seats from red to blue by backing Democrats Dave Min and Josh Newman. We speak with CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall about what these groups are hoping to accomplish by bankrolling candidates and what kind of impact special interests have in California politics. Thoughts or questions? Call 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Laurel Rosenhall, CalMatters reporter covering California politics, her latest piece is “Cash blitz: Who’s spending the most to influence your vote for California’s Legislature;” she tweets @LaurelRosenhall