Asms. Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk.
ASSEMBLY//CAMPAIGN FINANCE | East Bay Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk both won election to the Legislature last year. While Bonta quickly moved to the top tier of Democratic legislators in the lower house, Quirk laid low and learned the intricacies of Sacramento. However, both are benefiting from the parties deep roots within labor unions and special interests. According to campaign finance reports released this week, nearly 90 percent of their campaign coffers were padded with union and special interests money.
Bonta, who represents the 18th District in Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, received $264,376 through the first half of this year, according to finance reports. He spent over $162,000 for an ending balance of $168,807. However, a large percentage of Bonta’s expenditures were set aside pay to alms to the statewide party and help some local campaigns pay off past debts.
The Democratic State Central Committee received $34,785 from Bonta over the past six months. The total is not unusual and illustrates Bonta’s growing power in Sacramento. He also donated $1,000 to Abel Guillen, his opponent for the assembly last year. In addition, he contributed to the campaigns of former Oakland City Council candidate Sean Sullivan, Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Bonta also dabbled in Southern California politics, donating $1,300 to the successful mayoral campaign in Los Angeles of Eric Garcetti.
Unions across the state from firefighters, police officers associations, nurses, health insurance groups, dentists and numerous trades poured over $230,000 into Bonta’s re-election campaign. Just under 12 percent of Bonta’s contributions came from individual donors.
Many of the same special interests also gave to Quirk, although in smaller amounts. Over the past six months, Quirk, who represents The 20th District in Hayward and most of the Tri-Cities, received $126,971 in contributions. He spent only $26,000, according to finance reports. Most of his expenditures were earmarked to a political consultant. His remaining balance stands at $100,321.
Like Bonta, just over 12 percent, or $15,600, of the contributions to Quirk’s re-election was from private individuals. Among Quirk’s biggest contributors is Calpine, which donated $4,100. The new Russell City Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant in Hayward, which Quirk supported as city councilmember, is scheduled to go online soon.
Despite the large amount of campaign finance dollars received by either legislator, neither has an opponent next year. There have been rumbling Dr. Jennifer Ong may challenge Quirk for a rematch of last year’s race, but her finance reports list just over $1,700 in her 2012 account. Quirk beat Ong by just over 900 votes.
There is another reason why Bonta and Quirk need to build war chests despite the lack of a credible challenger next year. With changes to term limits, last year’s freshmen now have the opportunity to entrench themselves in Sacramento for 12 years total, instead of 8.