Dr. Jennifer Ong

ELECTION ‘12//ASSEMBLY | Dr. Jennifer Ong, one of two Democrats facing each other in the 20th Assembly District next month, broke the half-million dollar mark in support from independent expenditures this week.

Ong, who is facing former Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, another Democrat, received over $90,000 in support from groups not affiliated directly with her campaign for the Assembly, but connected to the optometric industry. Ong is an optometrist with her own practice in Alameda.

The Cooperative of American Physicians Independent Expenditure Committee filed support for Ong’s campaign in the form of $50,178 last Wednesday. Another $40,505 was spent on Ong’s behalf by the California Optometric Association Political Action Committee, and Doctors of Optometry for Better Health Care. The outlay from this IEC now totals over $213,000 for the entire campaign. The sometimes large expenditures are often used to promote the group’s special interests along with supporting the candidate in mailers.

All together, Ong has received indirect benefits from independent expenditure committee this campaign season of $523,465. The huge support from special interests has greatly leveled the playing field built by her opponent’s sizable fundraising advantage built upon labor unions and traditional allies in the local Democratic Party.

The uptick in support for Ong from IECs with just a few weeks until Election Day follows a similar pattern to the days leading up to the June primary. Ong’s own campaign spending along with help from IECs in late May was a prime reason for her strong finish, leading to a second place finish.

Quirk, himself, was also the beneficiary this week of one IEC of particular note, if not for the race in the 20th, but the nearby 18th Assembly District. The California Alliance, A Coalition of Consumer Attorneys and Conservationalists filed support for Quirk worth $25,200 last Tuesday. This is the same special interest group that infamously spent over $163,000 in a flurry of highly negative ads to successfully thwart Joel Young’s bid last June for the Assembly.

In the 18th, Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta received support from three small IEs this week, giving him a total of over $83,000 for the entire election.