Politics & Government

Realtors toss $205,000 into California Democrat's campaign

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Realtors is pouring a hefty $205,000 into the effort to re-elect Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

"Good for them," Cardoza campaign manager Mike Lynch said Monday.

It's good for Cardoza, as well. The Realtors' spending, made public Monday by the Federal Election Commission, will fund a mass mailing throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The Realtors' spending is one of the organization's largest campaign expenditures for a Democrat so far this year, federal campaign records show.

The newly reported spending also reflects the accelerating stream of so-called independent expenditures into California races.

Certain races in particular are attracting outside funding, including the Senate race pitting Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer against Republican Carly Fiorina and the 11th Congressional District race pitting Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney against Republican challenger David Harmer.

The money is called an independent expenditure because it's supposed to come without any coordination between the group spending the money and the political beneficiary. Lynch, for instance, said he wasn't aware of the spending by the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund until he was informed by a reporter.

That the Realtors were backing Cardoza over Republican candidate Mike Berryhill was, however, made clear in an endorsement letter last week.

"California Realtors have had a long and productive relationship with Congressman Cardoza because of his strong support of California homeowners," Stockton Realtor Marian Norris declared when delivering the endorsement.

The organization cited Cardoza's support for policies such as extending an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, which President Barack Obama signed into law earlier this year. Very few lawmakers opposed the politically popular extension, which passed the House by a 409-5 margin.

The National Association of Realtors operates several political campaign committees, among the largest of their kind. They are an unsentimental and pragmatic bunch.

When Republicans controlled Congress in 2004, for instance, GOP candidates and lawmakers received 52 percent of the Realtors' campaign contributions, records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show. In 2008, with Democrats controlling Congress, 58 percent of the Realtors' campaign contributions went to Democrats.