Playing on the statewide political stage in California takes big bucks, and with the November election now less than 100 days away, we're starting to get a clearer sense of who's got some momentum... and who's out of gas.
Campaign finance reports filed in advance of Tuesday night's deadline show the money starting to add up in some marquee battles, most notably Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase proposal, Proposition 30.
New reports show Brown's campaign committee raised about $6.2 million through June 30, with current totals are closer to $8 million. But perhaps more noteworthy is that the notoriously frugal governor is still sitting on about $5 million in cash, a launching pad for what could easily be a very expensive campaign to come.
Of course, it's already been an expensive effort. You'll remember that Brown, after sensing that too many tax measures on the November 6 ballot could spell doom for all, agreed to a compromise version with a teachers union and liberal activists. As such, that meant even more money needed to quickly qualify the new measure. That's seen in the new report from an allied campaign committee, spearheaded by Assembly Speaker John Perez; his group reports spending $7 million in the first six months of 2012. Add that to Brown's expenses, and you get somewhere close to $10 million as the cost of gathering signatures twice... on two alternative tax hike initiatives.
The other prominent tax measure, Proposition 38, found itself with very little money at the end of June. The campaign reported only about $130,000 in the bank. But Prop 38 has been almost entirely bankrolled by one person, wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger. And Munger can easily replenish the effort, which she's said is her intent.
Big money is also being squirreled away by opponents of Proposition 32, the initiative that would ban political contributions via paycheck deductions -- pretty much the sole source of union political cash. Prop 32's labor coalition reports having $6.5 million in cash on hand. Meantime, the campaign in support of Prop 32 remains in search of well-heeled backers, with only $1 million in the bank as of June 30.
But the biggest shocker of the campaign filing deadline is surely going to be the 'brother can you spare a dime?' status of the California Republican Party.
It was last week when word surfaced that the state GOP would be reporting a negative balance of at least $450,000 -- after spending some $2 million last year in a failed bid to overturn the newly redistricted state Senate maps.
The actual report shows that's pretty much true -- spending outpaced cash by about that amount -- but the California GOP does have a small amount of cash left in the bank: $169,137.18. And that's before its unpaid bills of almost $156,000.
By contrast, the California Democratic Party has a whopping $13.6 million in the bank, even after spending some $6.5 million in the first six months of the 2012. That's a huge mismatch, and could be an game changer when you consider that legislative candidates across California look to the two major parties for financial help, while other campaigns will rely on the get-out-the-vote efforts traditionally paid for by the parties.
As most people know, money can be a key factor in politics. Of course, the new campaign filings show that isn't always the case. Case in point: the campaign in support of June's initiative to modify legislative term limits, Proposition 28. The measure was resoundingly approved by voters, even though the Yes on Prop 28 campaign only spent about $300,000 in all of 2012.
10:25 p.m. This article was updated with GOP and Democratic party campaign finance information.