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Candidates, outside groups spend nearly $39 million on Orange County House races

Candidates have raised a combined $44.9 million and spent $27.5 million so far in the seven House races that touch Orange County, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That doesn’t include independent expenditures directed at these seats. Outside groups have already spent at least $11.2 million more to support or oppose local candidates, with more than half of that total coming from Democratic groups opposing GOP challenger Michelle Steel in the 48th District race. That brings total expenditures on the seven local House races to nearly $39 million, with two weeks to go until Election Day.

When it comes to fundraising, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in the 45th District and Republican challenger Young Kim in the 39th District once again posted the biggest quarterly totals.

Porter’s third-quarter haul of $5.2 million is a record for a Democrat who’s not in House leadership, with only House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raising more money during the three-month period ending Sept. 30. Porter beat the No. 3 Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, by nearly $800,000.

Porter has now raised $13.4 million this cycle in her bid to hang onto the 45th District, which spreads from Irvine to Anaheim Hills and Mission Viejo. The former UC Irvine law professor had $8.9 million in campaign cash heading into October, with plans to use some of that money to support other progressive candidates across the country.

Porter’s November opponent, Republican Greg Raths, raised $446,190 in the third quarter and has taken in $1.2 million for the cycle. That figure includes $148,179 that the Mission Viejo councilman donated to his own campaign. He had $327,397 in cash as of Sept. 30, with Porter expected to handily win reelection.

In CA-39, which includes voters who live in parts of Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, records show that Kim for the second quarter in a row raised more than twice as much money as Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros. Kim is the only local House challenger to raise more from donors than the incumbent she’s trying to unseat.

Kim, who’s a former state Assemblywoman, raised over $1.7 million during the third quarter. She’s raised nearly $5 million this cycle and had more than $1.4 million cash for the final month of the race. But Kim does owe $493,169 to vendors for advertising, consulting and other campaign costs.

Cisneros’ campaign took in $778,996 in the latest quarter, bringing the first-term incumbent’s total for this cycle to $3.5 million. Cisneros now has $808,251 in cash on hand, though he owes $607,479 to campaign vendors.

Cisneros’ fundraising total also includes $100,000 he loaned himself in June. That debt is added to $500,000 he loaned to his campaign during the 2018 election. In that campaign, Cisneros — who 10 years ago won $266 million in the lottery — spent more than $9 million of his own money to defeat Kim and win the seat. It’s not yet clear if Cisneros will again dip deeply into his personal funds in hopes of swaying voters in the final weeks of the election, with pundits now narrowly calling the race in his favor.

In the tight race for the 48th District, which includes coastal Orange County, Rep. Harley Rouda at first appears to only have a narrow overall financial advantage over GOP challenger Michelle Steel. He raised $1.4 million in the third quarter and $5.3 million this cycle, leaving him with nearly $2.4 million in cash. Steel raised $1.6 million this quarter and $5.1 million this cycle, with nearly $2 million in cash heading into October.

But Steel gave her own campaign another $502,367 this quarter, bringing her total personal contributions to more than $1.7 million. The Republican – who draws a salary for serving as chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and for working in the law office of her husband, GOP activist Shawn Steel – also owes $289,135 to campaign vendors.

Pundits expect Rouda, who doesn’t owe any campaign debt and hasn’t used any of his personal real estate fortune to fund his race, to narrowly win the race.

In the 49th District, which straddles Orange and San Diego counties, Democratic Rep. Mike Levin maintains a solid fundraising advantage over GOP challenger Brian Maryott and is expected to readily win a second term.

Levin raised $534,642 last quarter and nearly $3.6 million this cycle for his CA-49 re-election bid. The former environmental attorney has $1.8 million in cash and owes $5,000 to campaign vendors.

Maryott, a San Juan Capistrano councilman and financial planner, raised $457,011 in the second quarter and nearly $2.3 million for the cycle. He has $223,542 in cash but owes $353,620 to vendors. Maryott’s total also includes $255,500 he’s given to his campaign and another $257,700 he’s loaned to himself this cycle, including a new loan of $57,700 in the latest quarter.

In three other House races that are entirely or partly in Orange County, Republican challengers reported little or no fundraising. Democratic Reps. Linda Sanchez in CA-38, Lou Correa in CA-46 and Alan Lowenthal in CA-47 are expected to easily hang onto their seats.

Congressional candidates’ final fundraising reports before Election Day, covering donations and expenses made from Oct. 1 through Oct. 14, are due Thursday, Oct. 22. Large donations and independent expenditures must be reported daily through Nov. 3.


Source: Orange County Register

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