Major fundraiser to benefit California GOP candidates

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 18, 2012 

— House Republicans and their deep-pocketed allies will hold a Capitol Hill mega-fundraiser Thursday night aiding eight California congressional candidates.

Bringing together top House leaders and political action committees willing to pay up to $40,000 each, the joint fundraising event underscores GOP lawmakers’ insistence that they can make a serious run at districts ranging from the Central Valley and Central Coast to Southern California.

“It shows the strength of our position within the state, and the strength of the state’s position within Congress,” Colusa County supervisor and congressional challenger Kim Vann said of the high-profile, multi-candidate event.

For sure, the money is flowing. Republican campaign operatives last month announced they reserved $3 million worth of airtime in Sacramento, potentially targeting four separate congressional races in the region. Democrats, in turn, have reserved more than $4.7 million worth of Sacramento airtime, all but ensuring voters will be bombarded with ads from both sides.

Last Friday, some of California’s most highly touted GOP challengers joined with selected Republican incumbents in a series of fundraising and public events in the San Francisco Bay area. The joint fundraising and team presentation were largely credited to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Calif., as was the joint fundraising event Thursday night.

“Kevin has really rallied us. I’ve never seen this kind of organizational unity before, at least in California,” Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, one of the participants in last week’s events, said Wednesday. “It’s a real indication of the seriousness with which these races are being held.”

Further boosting the party’s California political investment, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and McCarthy top the Thursday night fundraiser invitation. To get face time with the House leaders and candidates, political action committees can pay between $40,000 to be a “host,” $20,000 to be a “sponsor” or $8,000 to be a simple “attendee,” according to the invitation posted on the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time blog, which tracks congressional fundraising events.

The money raised will be divvied up among Vann; former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, running against Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; Assemblyman David Valadao, R-Hanford, running for an open San Joaquin Valley seat; Lodi resident Ricky Gill, running against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richdale, who is running for an open Sacramento Valley seat, and three Southern California candidates.

“It’s extremely important,” Vann said of the aggressive dollar chase. “Fundraising is the path to getting our campaign message out to people.”

Vann is running against Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. On Wednesday morning, she was sitting in the lounge of the Republicans’ Capitol Hill Club; several seats away, as it happens, from Valadao. Valadao is heavily favored to win an open seat in a congressional district spanning much of the San Joaquin Valley’s west side.

Their candidacies differ in some important respects. Vann is challenging an incumbent who’s been winning elections, and building a fundraising base, since 1974. Valadao faces a Democrat, John Hernandez, with no prior elected experience.

Financially, too, the races differ. By some fundraising measurements, Vann and Garamendi are running a close race, while Valadao is stomping Hernandez. Vann reported having $222,735 available as of June 30, while Garamendi reported having $216,069 available.

Hernandez reported having no campaign cash on hand as of May 16. Valadao, meanwhile, reports having $658,617 on hand.

Both Vann and Valadao, though, are designated “Young Guns” by the National Republican Campaign Committee, in a sign they have demonstrated enough fundraising and campaign potential to merit both attention and dollars. Other beneficiaries of the Thursday night fundraiser are likewise designated Young Guns.

Email: mdoyle@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @MichaelDoyle10

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