Former Assemblymember Nancy Skinner of Berkeley reported that she has nearly $1.1 million in cash reserves in her state Senate campaign account, which is more than ten times what her main opponent Sandré Swanson, has in total cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports released today. To further Swanson’s woes, Piedmont political upstart Katherine Welch, who announced her campaign in late September, also outraised the former Oakland Assemblymember during the last six months of 2015.
In addition, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s re-election campaign is languishing in debt, while his challenger for the East Oakland and Tri-Valley seat, former Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker, is brimming with political contributions, according to campaign finance data.
Although a large amount of Skinner’s fundraising advantage came by way of funds transferred last year from her former Assembly warchest, she nonetheless topped the field with $277,034 in contributions since July 1 for $1,095,336 in available cash as of December 31. Welch, who is the daughter of former General Electric chairman Jack Welch, raised $104,307 in just three months and reported $64,273 in cash on hand at the end of 2015. Swanson, despite being backed by nearly every big-name Democrat in the East Bay, received just $87,796 and banked $104,773 in cash. San Pablo Councilmember Rich Kinney, a Republican, reported raising $6,170 for the year with $2,954 cash in the bank. Both Skinner and Swanson have nearly identical unpaid bills of around, $24,000, while Welch has none, according to the reports.
Yet despite the large difference in campaign funds, the race between Skinner and Swanson, two well-known East Bay progressives, appears to be close. Over the weekend, Alameda County Democrats decided against offering either candidate the statewide party’s valuable endorsement for the June primary. At the pre-endorsement caucus in Oakland on Saturday afternoon, Swanson received the most votes of any candidate, barely beating Skinner, 45-41, but failed to win the required majority of delegates to be considered for the endorsement at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Jose at the end of the month. In addition, the statewide Service Employees International Union, one of the most powerful labor unions in California, offered last week to split its endorsement between Skinner and Swanson.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a hotly contested race for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is becoming a very real following Monday’s fundraising reports. Miley, who has represented District Four since 2000, raised $41,191 during the second half of last year, but spent $56,470, while reporting just $5,421 in available cash. The low amount of cash reserves is worsened by $20,813 in campaign debt, according to his finance report.
Parker’s ability to raise large sums of campaign contributions was evident during his run for Oakland mayor in 2014 and appears to be continuing in his bid to unseat Miley. Parker received $117,828 in contributions since opening his campaign account in September. He spent $47,752 during the same period for a total of $76,660 in remaining cash. The campaign also reported $6,585 in debts.
The possibility of facing a large fundraising deficit to Parker may be a reason why Miley’s campaign enlisted the fundraising help of Don Perata, the well-connected former state Senate pro tem. Last Saturday, both campaigns staged large fundraisers — Miley with a black-tie affair at the Claremont Country Club and Parker with a kick-off at Oakland’s Castlemont High School featuring the school’s pep squad and a bouncy house.