AD15: Heavy spending as primary race winds down

15th Assembly District candidate Buffy Wicks at a forum in Oakland last January. In the background, Dan Kalb, Judy Appel, Jovanka Beckles, and Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto.

The 15th Assembly District primary is one of the most contentious and expensive elections in the state. And now is the time for the candidates and Independent Expenditure Committees to begin their spending sprees.

As with every other campaign finance period in this race, Democrat Buffy Wicks has raised the most money and spent the most. During the second pre-primary filing period covering April 22 to May 19, Wicks raised $39,460, while spending $246,748, for $117,233 in cash reserves for the final weeks of the campaign. All three amounts topped the entire field.

The amount of expenditures over the past month is well more than double her next most spendthrift opponent. Since the beginning of the year, Wicks’ campaign has spent $405,099. But that’s just her own campaign finances.

Govern for California, an IE backed in part by wealth charter school supporter Jim Crane blitzed the primary field over the past month with $435,073 worth of expenditures in support of Wicks that includes mailers and polling. IEs are prohibited by law from coordinating their activities with the candidates they support.

El Cerrito Councilmember Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, like Wicks, has also greatly benefited from support bestowed by IEs. In this case, the California Nurses Association. In just the past two weeks, the nurses spent $80,362 on billboards and numerous mailers. Since Jan. 1, the CNA IE supporting Pardue-Okimoto has reported $191,180 in expenditures.

In addition, to the large influx of special interest money, Pardue-Okimoto’s campaign also spent $106,988 over the last month, while raising $15,155. Her campaign reported $17,643 in cash on hand.

Berkeley school board member Judy Appel continued with strong campaign finance numbers. She raised $22,916 during the one-month-long period, along with $110,547 in expenditures, and $47,192 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb’s finance reports suggests his campaign is planning a late spending run. Kalb reported $41,613 in contributions–the largest in the field during the period, and spent $88,057. But Kalb’s $87,529 in cash reserves is the race’s second largest behind Wicks. This week, the campaign released a 30-second spot featuring Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf exclaiming that Kalb “won’t back down.”

Despite clear progressive values that seem suited¬† for the assembly district, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles’ continues to be underfunded. Beckles spent just $12,518, the lowest among the race’s top seven candidates. Her campaign reported $18,572 in fundraising, along with $19,116 cash on hand.

During a period when Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett lost some significant endorsements, especially a now-dual backing with Appel from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, his campaign posted $30,223 in contributions, $22,723 in expenditures, and $28,658 in cash reserves.

East Bay MUD Director Andy Katz reported a dismal $554 in contributions over the last month, but spent $44,266, leaving him with $76,286 in the bank.

 

 

 

 

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