Lots of money from the left, right and locations in between is flowing into the closely watched San Joaquin Valley congressional race pitting Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, against Democratic challenger Michael Eggman.
Buoyed in part by the political action committees that accounted for 70 percent of his funds raised over the past three months, Denham had nearly $2.4 million on hand Sept. 30. He reported raising $340,072 in net contributions during the crucial third quarter that began July 1.
Running for his fourth House term in a congressional district that spans Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County, Denham scooped up contributions from Indian tribes, Valley farmers, rail and airline executives, and political action committees representing companies like PG&E, among others.
“Congressman Denham’s financial numbers are an indicator of the deep and widespread support he has in the Valley,” Dave Gilliard, Denham’s political strategist, said Monday.
Underscoring this year’s accelerated fundraising pace, Denham’s campaign has stockpiled about $900,000 more than he had on hand at the same stage of his 2014 race, according to Federal Election Commission reports made public Saturday. Denham beat Eggman in that initial campaign by 56-44 percent.
But Eggman, too, has been drawing in dollars as Democrats eye a district where they have a slight party-registration advantage over Republicans. Mindful of the district’s 43 percent Hispanic or Latino population, Democrats have also been trying to exploit Denham’s support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump and Jeff Denham are two peas in a pod and that is why California is making it clear they are ready for a change,” one recent Eggman fundraising email proclaimed.
Eggman reported raising $323,621 during the last three months, nearly matching Denham’s quarterly total. As of Sept. 30, Eggman had $504,314 on hand, about $100,000 more than he had available at a comparable time in his 2014 campaign.
About 26 percent of the money Eggman raised last quarter came from political action committees, representing myriad labor unions, the decriminalization-oriented Marijuana Policy Project and the environmental groups Friends of the Earth and League of Conservation Voters, among others.
$2,397,982.84. Rep. Jeff Denham’s cash on hand, Sept. 30.
Both Denham and Eggman collect funds in some uniquely characteristic ways.
Eggman, for one, has been aided by far-flung contributions funneled through the Democratic online fundraising service called ActBlue.
Denham’s fundraising has been enhanced by his growing seniority on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In the past quarter, he collected contributions from eight executives of the BNSF railroad company and 18 executives with Atlas Air, a New York-based cargo airline company.
Fundraising disparities in the Valley’s other House races hint at foregone conclusions on Election Day.
Denham’s GOP colleague, Rep. David Valadao of Hanford, reported having $1.2 million on hand as of Sept. 30, an overpowering advantage over the Democratic challenger, Bakersfield attorney Emilio J. Huerta, who reported $74,756 on hand.
Incumbent Rep. Jim Costa, the Fresno-area Democrat whose district includes Merced County, had $1.4 million on hand at the end of the fundraising quarter, while his third-time GOP challenger, Johnny Tacherra, had scraped together only $16,526.
A Republican whose district spans multiple Sierra Nevada mountain counties, Rep. Tom McClintock had a comparatively modest $322,709 available, but it still swamped the $22,280 held by his Democratic challenger, Dr. Bob Derlet of Sonora.
Other Valley Republicans who are waltzing to even easier re-elections, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, reported having $3 million and $1.8 million on hand, respectively.