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Katie Porter raises more in first quarter than all other Orange County reps combined

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine continues to be one of the top fundraisers in the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing in nearly $2.2 million in donations over the first three months of this year, according to financial reports posted this week with the Federal Election Commission.

That’s half a million dollars more than Orange County’s six other House representatives raised last quarter combined.

Nearly tying for second place when it came to fundraising among local House candidates were GOP freshman Reps. Young Kim, of La Habra, and Michelle Steel, of Seal Beach. During the three months that ended on March 31, they raised $545,102 and $544,827 respectively.

Their 2022 Democratic competitors also finished nearly even, latest FEC data shows. Kim’s CA-39 competitor, Jay Chen, D-Hacienda Heights, took in $363,099 in donations so far this year. Steel’s repeat CA-48 challenger, Democrat Harley Rouda, who held the seat when she defeated him in November, raised $374,803.

That sets those two swing seats up to be the most competitive and most expensive local races in the coming year.

By contrast, Porter’s sole challenger so far in the narrowly blue 45th District is Republican Brian Burley, an IT analyst from Huntington Beach. Burley ran in 2020 in the 48th District, where he still lives, but lost to Steel in the primary. Burley reported $32,867 in donations from individuals in the first quarter and had $15,311 in cash. His campaign owes $51,185 in loans and campaign expenses.

Meanwhile, Porter’s $2.2 million haul this quarter, raised primarily from individual donors, puts her behind only House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and GOP Rep. Kevin McCarty of Bakersfield in terms of fundraising by California House members.

Porter faced six Republican challengers in the March 2020 primary, ultimately beating Greg Raths by 7 percentage points.

Aside from Porter’s $11.5 million war chest, which includes money rolled over from similarly successful fundraising hauls last cycle, second-term Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, is in the best position in terms of cash heading into the second quarter.

Levin raised $469,144 in the first three months of the year in his bid at a third term representing the narrowly blue 49th District, which covers south Orange County and north San Diego County. Levin spent $191,444 on his campaign and was sitting on $1.8 million in cash at the end of March.

Levin so far is only facing a third challenge from Brian Maryott, R-San Juan Capistrano, who failed to make it out of the 2018 primary, then, last year, lost to Levin by 6.2 percentage points in the November’s general election. Maryott raised $52,968 in the first quarter, spent $60,162, and had $4,599 cash, according to the the filings.

Republicans already have put a target on CA-45 and CA-49 for 2022. But these early fundraising totals suggest an uphill battle to flip those seats unless higher profile GOP challengers or once-in-a-decade redistricting shifts voters in a way that favors the GOP.

In the increasingly blue 39th District, which includes portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, the first local race targeted by Democrats is on track to be much closer than those GOP targeted races.

Kim reported $724,894 in cash at the end of March. While she owes $137,363 for campaign expenses, that still left her with more than half a million dollars heading into April.

She narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Gil Cisneros in November. But Cisneros was recently announced as the Biden administration’s nominee for an undersecretary position in the Department of Defense, a move that almost surely takes him out of the race in 2022. On that news, Democrats, including Rep. Ted Lieu, have started throwing their support behind Chen, an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserves who owns a local real estate firm.

Chen reports his $363,099 fundraising haul is the most any Democrat in CA-39 has ever brought in during the first quarter of a cycle. He was sitting on $384,416 cash at the end of March and owes $22,476.

Kim reported $724,894 in cash at the end of March. While she owes $137,363 for campaign expenses, that still left her with more than half a million dollars heading into April.

And repeat CA-39 challenger Steve Cox, an independent from Chino Hills, hasn’t reported any fundraising this cycle.

The race for the narrowly red 48th District in coastal Orange County also is on track to be close in 2022.

Steel was sitting on $584,755 cash at the end of March, though she owes $250,000 in loans to herself and to a GOP tech consulting firm. Subtract that debt and she has $334,755.

Rouda, who launched his 2022 challenge on the day he conceded the 2020 race to Steel, reported $209,089 in cash after spending $234,763 on campaign expenses in the first quarter.

Independent Chris Balasinski of Newport Beach also has filed to run for the CA-48 seat but hasn’t yet reported any fundraising.

In the solidly blue 46th District, third-term Rep. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, raised $128,254 during the first quarter toward what’s shaping up to be an easy fight to keep the seat. Correa spent $54,235 on campaign expenses. With funds rolled over from previous cycles, Correa ended the first quarter with $1.2 million in cash on hand.

No one has yet filed to challenge Correa, who won reelection in November with nearly 69% of the vote.

Ten-term Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Whittier, took in $26,999 in contributions over the first three months of the year as she prepares to defend her seat in CA-38, a solidly blue district that’s primarily in southern Los Angeles County but includes a small slice of north Orange County.

Sanchez spent $143,814 on campaign expenses and donations, including $100,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. With funds rolled over from previous cycles, Sanchez ended the first quarter with $724,167 in cash on hand.

Sanchez’s sole challenger is political newcomer and progressive Democrat Elizabeth Moreira of Norwalk. Moreira, an Army veteran who now works in hospitality management, raised $3,468 and spent $1,393 in the first quarter, leaving her with $2,074 in cash.

Sanchez also faced just one progressive Democratic challenger in 2020. Michael Tolar never managed to raise any funds and Sanchez won reelection with 74.3% of the vote.

Five-term Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, raised $29,524 and spent $51,003 during the first quarter in his bid to keep his seat representing CA-47, another solidly blue district which includes northwest Orange County and southwest L.A. County. He reported $371,555 in cash going into the second quarter.

Lowenthal beat a Republican in November to win reelection with 63.3% of the vote. So far, he isn’t facing any challengers in the CA-47 race, after one early contender already dropped out.

Candidate fields could still change substantially before the June 7 primary, since district lines are being redrawn. New districts aren’t expected to be announced until late this year, and candidates have until March 11 to file to run for House seats in California.

Second quarter fundraising totals are due to the FEC by July 15.

Source: Orange County Register

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