Over the past six months in Oakland, one City Council seat was surprisingly up-for-grabs, and two other incumbents suddenly became vulnerable for differing reasons.
Campaign finance reports released this week indicate a large number of candidates may have the financial wherewithal to compete in races this fall. In addition, three candidates posted three-digit fundraising numbers through the first six months of this year, including one who recently suspended his campaign. A fourth loaned his mayoral campaign an astonishing $181,005.
Schaaf’s re-election war chest was replenished over the past six months with $114,180 in contributions. The influx of donations boosts her cash reserves to $315,398 through June 30. Schaaf spent $44,103 during the same six-month period. Long-time Oakland community activist Cat Brooks raised $49,517 since announcing her candidacy last May. He campaign spent $13,082, and maintains $41,964 in cash on hand. The early fundraising effort is an impressive showing for such a short amount of time.
Pamela Price, the former Alameda County District Attorney candidate who lost a combative campaign last June to Nancy O’Malley, pulled papers to run for mayor last month. However, she did not file a finance report.
Oakland Public Ethics Commissioner Saied Karamooz, meanwhile, loaned his mayoral campaign a whopping $181,005, according to his finance report. Karamooz ran for the mayor in 2014 with minimal success, but with the loan, his campaign cash reserves of $180,369 is easily the second largest for any race in Oakland this year.
District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillén appears to have weathered a difficult early year with $95,842 in contributions through June 30. Guillén has taken it on the chin from Oakland housing activists and wariness from some of the city’s most powerful unions. Guillén spent $23,208 during the same period, and reports $113,721 in cash in the bank. Nikki Fortunato Bas got the attention of insiders earlier this year with an impressive fundraising performance. Bas raised $36,943 this year and spent $30,800 with $50,895 in reserves. SEIU Local 1021 and IBEW Local 595 contributed $1,500 each to Bas’ campaign, along with 1,000 from the California Nurses Association.
In District 6, the embattled incumbent Councilmember Desley Brooks struggled to keep up with the upstart campaign of Loren Taylor. Brooks reported $33,497, while spending just $4,740. The contributions raises her cash reserves to $57,353.
Taylor, meanwhile, is proving that his campaign to unseat Brooks may have the financial heft to unseat the incumbent. His campaign raised $110,250 this year–the third largest amount of fundraising of any candidate in Oakland this year. Taylor spent $20,401 and holds a cash reserve of $99,075 through June 30. In addition, he appears ready to use Oakland’s ranked-choice voting system to his advantage. Taylor made $100 donations to a pair of his own opponents in District 6–Marlo Rodriguez ($19,757 cash on hand) and Mya Whitaker ($2,152 cash on hand).
Natasha Middleton, also viewed as one of Brooks’ main challengers, reported $28,900 in contributions, while spending $10,776, in addition, to $9,545 in debts, for a remaining reserve of $18,124.
The evolving race in District 4, where Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington announced earlier this year she would not seek re-election after just one term, appears to be a likely wide-open affair in the fall, according to finance reports. Last week, Chris Young, one of the potential front runners in the race, abruptly suspended his campaign. With the release of fundraising reports this week, the prognosis for a peculiar race is furthered by the fact Young posted exceptional finance reports.
Over the past six month, Young received $113,207 in contributions for a total cash reserve of $108,375. His campaign spent just $6,456. Among the remaining candidates, Charlie Michelson leads the pack.
Following Young’s departure from the race, Michelson picked Schaaf’s endorsement last week. He posted $47,330 in contributions, including $13,000 from himself, while spending $1,824, and reporting a reserve of $47,280. Four other candidates were packed together in fundraising through June 30, led by Nayeli Maxson with $25,609 ($25,704 in cash on hand); Sheng Thao with $21,139 ($21,038 cash on hand); Pamela Harris with $20,361 ($18,449 cash on hand); and Joseph Tanios, who raised $16,455, however, along with a personal loan of $10,000, for a cash on hand total of $25,847