One of the days we political geeks look forward to the most is the release of candidates' financial statements.
It only happens a few times in an election cycle — the first two are semi-annual, then a third just a few days before the primary election. If there are runoffs and a general election, there's an extra report. And a reconciliation report after the election is of interest only to super geeks.
In Long Beach, the first report from announced candidates was due July 31. And the fun has begun.
Sometimes, people equate the ability to raise money with the strength of a candidate. That's why several candidates urged potential supporters to get their donations in before the deadline. It's also why Mayor Robert Garcia trumpeted his record-breaking total of $241,677 in press releases and e-blasts. Vice Mayor Rex Richardson also pounded his chest with the announcement that he had raised $70,030 for his Ninth District reelection campaign (also a record for a district race).
It's important to note here that the only incumbent with any announced opposition at all is Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price. Someone named Carmen Huxley has filed an intent to run in the Third District, but did not file a financial statement.
Two citywide incumbents, City Attorney Charles Parkin and Auditor Laura Doud, haven't even filed to run for reelection. That means they didn't have to file a financial report — and that they don't think they have to run a year-long campaign to get reelected.
It's a fair assumption that building a large war chest might scare away potential candidates. It's also fair to say that early announcements like the mayor's has the same effect. If people think there might be an opening, it's easier to talk themselves into thinking they have a chance.
All of that is well and good, but the real fun is digging into the details of these financial statements. Where's the money coming from? Who's on the donation list (any donation of $100 or more must list the donor)? Sometimes more importantly, who isn't on the donation list?
Let's take a look.
As you might expect, Garcia's reach is long. His report comes in at 138 pages, and donors include many from across the state. The unions are there in force, as are the Long Beach movers and shakers — and yes, many people who have been appointed to commissions are on that list. Direct donations to the mayor's campaign are capped at $800 in any cycle for individuals, businesses and organizations. That's the reason so many donors are needed.
Then there are the independent expenditure committees, able to spend anything they want. When geared up, those committees can impact an election, but there are none registered for the Long Beach primary, at least so far.
The only other citywide candidate who has filed papers, Prosecutor Doug Haubert, has raised a modest $32,278. He's touched up lots of lawyer friends, including colleague Parkin, and has the support of the Long Beach police and firefighter unions.
Richardson, as mention above, raised more than his council colleagues. The donation cap for council members is $400. Richardson's list is a bit unusual with donations from firefighter associations all over Southern California. He also received a donation from Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the state Assembly (Rendon also donated to Garcia).
Next on the City Council list is Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo. Most observers expect Mungo to face a stiff challenge, so she has shown her strength by raising $58,607. Her list includes many real estate agents and firms, but does not include the Long Beach firefighters, at least so far.
Price has raised $45,769. She got support from Haubert, but the big surprise was that the Orange County deputy district attorney hasn't received anything from the Long Beach Police Officers Association as of the end of the reporting period.
Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga has raised $36,376, with a fair chunk of that coming from unions. He also was the recipient of an officeholder account donation from Richardson. The council voted to allow that earlier this year.
Finally, Lena Gonzalez reported $35,090 raised, with a balanced list of donations. She also received a donation from Richardson's officeholder account, as well as a donation from Uranga.
Next comes the fun of seeing how everyone spends their money. Let the games begin.
Editor's Note. This letter was received after the story was posted.
I just finished reading your article regarding the most recent campaign finance reporting.
I want to ensure it is very clear ... the LBPOA did donate to the reelection campaign of Councilwoman Price. I do not know where the error occurred that led to the reporting in your article.
Councilwoman Price is an ethical and dedicated public safety professional. She has the unanimous support and endorsement of the LBPOA Board of Directors. We proudly donated to her campaign months ago.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at any time.
Long Beach Police Officers Association