In relatively low-money City Council elections, where candidates can't run weekly polls to see how they're doing, we in the press like to use fund-raising as an approximation of support. But election filings offer all sorts of interesting and entertaining information about candidates. Here's a look at recent filings from candidates for the June 3 election (not every candidate is mentioned below). The numbers refer to contributions received in 2007:
In 2004, flight-school owner Phil Thalheimer tried to beat incumbent City Councilmember Scott Peters by spending vast heaps of money. All he got was a $1 million campaign debt and a runner-up ribbon. This year, though he contributed $33,000 to his own campaign, he's still managed to amass 180 individual donors who have given him $48,880. He'll fight for more conservative votes with Marshall Merrifield, CEO of lock-and-key supplier Clark Security Products and founder of several wireless Internet startups, who's loaned himself 62 percent of the $73,040 he has on hand. Community activist and engineer Sherri Lightner raised $48,600, in large part thanks to help from retirees. The Lightner Brigade boasts 99 contributors who listed their occupation as “retired,” more than any other candidate by far.
Congressmember Susan Davis aide Todd Gloria's money is all from donors, including developers and lobbyists and folks who work in healthcare and education. Gloria's $116,681 fund-raising spree forced public-relations professional and community activist Stephen Whitburn to loan himself $43,000, giving him a total of $105,522. Whitburn's donor list consists of a hodgepodge of educators, homemakers and small-firm attorneys. Former City Councilmember John Hartley has a retiree brigade of his own—some 60 donors. Ex-gay James Hartline raised $3,255 from 25 donors, showing he's very popular among his immediate circle of friends.
It's hard to see anyone stopping the Carl DeMaio steamroller. Sure, the wealthy consultant and activist pitched in $192,000 of his own money, but he also raised $148,000 from regular people. DeMaio's base appears to be executives. His rolls include 21 CEOs, 11 chairmen, 28 presidents, 34 vice presidents and two vice chancellors. He also had a lot of contributions from business and real-estate interests. Scripps Ranch activist Bob Ilko will have to do his best David imitation to beat this Goliath.
Former TV reporter Marti Emerald hauled in $81,921 in just a few months of fund-raising, though she's already found a way to spend $71,342 of it. Some of that has gone to mailers, but a lot went to political consultants like K-M Consultants and Duffy Research. Since some of those bills are not yet paid, Emerald has $30,552 still on hand. An accountant by trade, April Boling has been the worker ant, raising $113,638 over a longer period. She still has $64,875 on hand.