AD15 Democrat Buffy Wicks has $323,000
for the final month of the primary campaign.


The fundraising juggernaut that is 15th Assembly District candidate Buffy Wicks shows no signs of abetting. Campaign finance reports released last Thursday show Wicks, a Democrat, raised $97,015 over the past four months. In addition, her campaign’s $323,5765 in cash reserves easily dwarfs the rest of the sprawling 12-candidate field of 11 Democrats and one Republican in the June primary race for the Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland seat.

Wicks’ fundraising prowess was also evident through the end of last year when she quickly raised $530,000 in campaign contributions. The impressive total was buoyed by a majority of contributions from outside the 15th District. No surprise since Wicks has strong ties to the national Democratic Party. She previously served in the Obama administration and led Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort in California two years ago.

Wicks is also starting to spend her largess, according to finance reports, spending $158,351 during the period from Jan. 1 through April 21. Only Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett cracked six-figures in spending during the same period.

Berkeley school member Judy Appel, whose campaign seems to be catching fire at the right time in the primary race, raised $87,002 over the past four months. Appel’s $140,224 in cash on hand for the final 40 days of the primary is second most in the field.

Appel’s fundraising numbers will only bolster chatter among East Bay insiders who predict a likely two-woman November election that includes Wicks and, now possibly, Appel.

If Wicks and Appel are uplifted by their fundraising efforts, the financial report filed by Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb is somewhat concerning for his chances on June 5. Kalb raised just $46,256 between January and late April, according to finance reports.

Among the seven candidates most believe have a shot at the top-two November election, only El Cerrito Councilmember Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto ($38,531) and East Bay MUD board member Andy Katz ($16,744) raised less than Kalb.

Conversely, only Wicks and Bartlett spent more in the first quarter than Kalb, whose expenditures topped $84,000. Even more concerning is that Kalb reported $77,000 in campaign debts. A majority from personal loans to his campaign.

Like many East Bay assembly races in recent years, the power of individual campaign contributions have been greatly overshadowed by Independent Expenditures Committee (IEs), which have are backed by special interests groups and have no limits on the amounts they can spend. The spending, however, cannot be coordinated with individual campaigns.

Pardue-Okimoto, a Registered Nurse, who is backed by the powerful California Nurses Association, has by far been the biggest beneficiary of IEs in recent months. Two IEs connected to CNA have spent a combined $268,000 this year alone in support of Pardue-Okimoto in the form of billboards and numerous campaign mailers.

                      | JAN 1-APR 21 |
AD15              IN      OUT    DEBTS       CASH
WICKS      $  97,015 $158,351 $    553  $ 323,575
APPEL      $  87,002 $ 68,713 $ 20,400  $ 140,224
KATZ       $  16,744 $ 22,310 $      0  $ 119,999
P-OKIMOTO  $  38,531 $ 37,700 $  9,926  $ 100,944
KALB       $  46,256 $ 84,936 $ 77,213  $ 100,027
BARTLETT   $  48,829 $104,402 $ 17,616  $  20,700
BECKLES    $  56,453 $ 40,661 $  4,678  $  15,393