The battle for the hearts and minds of voters in the 35th Assembly District is first waged in their pocketbooks and those of power brokers in Sacramento. In this regard Democratic candidate Das Williams enters the final stretch of the campaign with a substantial financial advantage over his rival, Susan Jordan. As of May 20, Williams had raised nearly $200,000 more than Jordan — a total of $553,000 — and outspent her by $130,000 — doling out $432,000. That does not include the $60,000 spent on Williams’s behalf by three political action committees associated with tribal gaming interests.
While Williams boasted of the hundreds of smaller donations he received from district residents, Jordan noted that 40 percent of Williams’s total donations came from political action committees. The vast majority of these came from a wide array of labor unions long associated with Democratic Party candidates. (Jordan did well with donations from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and many public employee unions headquartered in Ventura.) Jordan has accused Williams of being the candidate of “the special interests.” She charged that the gambling, booze, and oil interests were lining up behind him. Williams dismissed the suggestion that he’s taken any money from the oil industry as “an abject lie.”
The issue is especially sensitive in light of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico and given that the two have parted company so drastically over PXP’s now-dead proposal to drill in state waters off the coast of Lompoc. Jordan noted that other clients of the Sacramento lobby firm hired by PXP gave Williams nearly $20,000. “If she wants to accuse me of being supported by the men and women who defended us from three wildfires — firefighters with the Department of Forestry — then I’m guilty as charged,” said Williams.
In the race for county seats, significant contributions from development and real estate business interests helped boost Dr. Dan Secord’s cash flow and also drew the ire of his opponent, incumbent 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, and her supporters, who held a rally outside the County Courthouse Tuesday.
Secord is up to speed financially in the race, having brought in $135,988 in the period of March 18 to May 22, bringing his year-to-date total to $157,633. Of that, he still has $84,789 remaining, more than enough for a final-week push to Election Day on June 8. But dotting his contribution list is a group of people who give many Wolf supporters pause; mainly, a large list of landowners, developers, and real estate managers with business interests in Santa Barbara County. The total contributions — from people like the Towbes Group, Lynn Ballantyne, the Alisal Ranch-owning Jackson family, Willy Chamberlin, and others — exceeds $56,000. His big contributor, however, is Steven Gary Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is also a member of the California Coastal Commission. Blank gave $25,000 to Secord.
Meanwhile, Wolf — who brought in $107,017 since March 18 and has $30,742 left in the bank — received $64,000 from public employee unions during the latest cycle, bringing her total from 2009-2010 to $88,000, including $51,000 from the County Firefighters union alone. She also has received widespread financial support from her Democratic base. Secord, who has controlled this election’s message by going after Wolf and painting her as fiscally irresponsible, has alleged she is in bed with employee unions. In exchange for their financial support, he says, she has voted to give them increased salaries and benefits.
Joshua Lynn and Joyce Dudley remain competitive in the money race for District Attorney. Lynn reported $64,173 contributed in the period covering March 18 to May 22, and a total of $194,232 since January 1. He has $97,635 still in the bank, but still has more than $83,000 in loans to pay back. Dudley, meanwhile, received $122,320 for the same time period, and has $28,821 left in the bank. She has received $194,073 since January 1.
Dudley’s big contributors this cycle include the County Firefighters, which gave $10,000, Chris Edgecombe ($5,000), Senior Deputy DA Gerald Franklin, who gave $6,000 to bring his total contribution to $14,000, and the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, which gave $2,000. She also had Judge Frank Ochoa, Judge Denise deBellefeuille and recently retired commissioner Deborah Talmage as contributors this latest cycle.
Lynn received $10,000 from Santa Ynez Valley Journal owner and rancher Nancy Crawford-Hall, and $5,000 from über-attorney Barry Cappello. Recently retired court commissioner Edward DeCaro, 5th District Supervisor Joe Centeno, and former DA Tom Sneddon all contributed to Lynn this recent period.