May 28, 2012 | While independent expenditure committees throw loads of vitriol against Joel Young in the nearby 18th Assembly District, others hoping to shape the race in the 20th District are sending lucrative love letters to Dr. Jennifer Ong in the form of hefty spending for her candidacy.

Three special interests groups with ties to health care and specifically, optometric political actions committees, have spent over $172,000 in recent weeks to support Ong’s hard, late push to snag a spot in the November general election against the likely winner, Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk.

Whether it’s being used to buy pot holders or potted plants, on her own, Ong has spent $228,835 of her own campaign fundraising since the beginning of the year, according to the state secretary of state. The total represents one of he largest campaign expenditures of any race in the state. Just under half of the total alone has been spent in the past two months.

Ong, an optometrist who owns a practice in Alameda, has been the benefactor of some of the same doctor’s groups who once backed Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, herself, a former nurse and health care advocate. In fact, before Hayashi switched from making laws to breaking them, the belief in the newly-drawn 20th Assembly District, was the eventually termed out Hayashi would have put considerable backing behind Ong’s candidacy. Despite Hayashi now being political kryptonite, groups with uber-long names have picked up the slack.

Doctors of Optometry for Better Health Care, sponsored by the California Optometric Association PAC have spent $79,423 in support of Ong. Californians Allied for Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account spent $71,225 on her behalf and a group called, Cooperative of American Physicians spent $21,619. By a rule of thumb, a standard-sized mailer typically costs around $20,000 and explains why Ong’s campaign is making sure you know about her mother selling hot dogs at the Oakland Coliseum and why your hot pot of baked beans this Memorial weekend is sitting atop an Ong for Assembly pot holder.