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Katie Porter, Young Kim lead in campaign fundraising for Orange County House races

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in the 45th District and Republican challenger Young Kim in the 39th District are the top fundraisers in the seven House races that touch Orange County, according to second quarter reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.

Porter once again posted one of the biggest fundraising totals, nationally, of any representative who isn’t in House leadership; Kim reported one of the biggest hauls of any challenger across the country.

The reports show that local candidates on both sides of the aisle slowed their fundraising in March and April amid the coronavirus pandemic, but picked up the pace in May and June. In recent weeks, local GOP candidates resumed in-person campaign activities while Democrats largely stuck to virtual outreach efforts.

During the three-month period ending June 30, Porter, of Irvine, raised $2.5 million in her bid to hang onto the 45th District, which spreads from Irvine to Yorba Linda and Mission Viejo. The first-term incumbent has raised $8.3 million since the start of the cycle, in January 2019, and has $6.8 million in campaign cash.

Her November opponent, Republican Greg Raths of Mission Viejo, raised $230,170 in the second quarter and has taken in $751,558 for the whole cycle. That figure includes $148,179 that Raths has donated to his own campaign. He has $334,919 in cash on hand.

Voter registration in CA-45 still favors the GOP by one percentage point, but Porter’s fundraising and her growing national profile pushed The Cook Political Report to change the forecast for the district from “lean Democratic” to “likely Democratic.” Four years ago, the GOP’s grip on the district was strong enough that Cook and other political observers didn’t consider it competitive.

Raths, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, was recently removed from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of “Young Guns,” a GOP program that can steer support to candidates who “show promise of running a successful campaign.”

The 39th and 48th districts, which were both considered “toss ups” two years ago, are now listed by the Cook Report as “lean Democratic.” But in both races the GOP challengers remain at the top tier of the NRCC’s Young Guns program.

In CA-39, which includes voters who live in parts of Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, records show that Kim raised twice as much money over the past quarter as Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros.

Cisneros’ campaign took in $668,197 in the second quarter, bringing the first-term incumbent’s total for this cycle to $2.8 million. That includes $100,000 that Cisneros loaned himself on June 29, the day before the latest reporting period closed. 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.

Cisneros’ campaign now has $1.67 million in cash on hand.

Kim raised over $1.23 million during the quarter, largely through a digital fundraising operation. She’s raised $3 million this cycle and has more than $1.5 million cash on hand.

Kim’s campaign said Cisneros’ move to dip into his personal fortune to boost his campaign is a sign that he’s concerned. Cisneros’ campaign dismissed that, saying that instead of fundraising his priority over the past few months has been getting protective gear and aid to CA-39 residents during the pandemic.

In the heated 48th District, which includes coastal Orange County, GOP challenger Michelle Steel’s campaign sent a press release Thursday saying she “outraised her incumbent opponent” nearly two to one last quarter. Records do show that she brought in nearly $1.2 million, while Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda brought in $661,726. But Steel gave herself $500,000 last quarter, and without that boost her fundraising would have been $648,387 — just shy of Rouda’s haul.

Steel has now given more than $1.2 million to her campaign, more than a third of the $3.3 million she’s raised this cycle. She has $2 million in cash heading into the third quarter.

Rouda’s second quarter haul takes him to $3.9 million for the cycle. He has nearly $2.9 million in cash and no debts.

Voter registration in the 48th favors the GOP by about 5 percentage points.

That’s no longer true in the 49th, where Democrats recently gained a slight (less than 1 percentage point) advantage over the GOP in a district that straddles Orange and San Diego counties.

Though the 49th was one of four O.C. districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018 — and for many years was represented by conservative Republican Darrell Issa — the politics have shifted enough that it’s no longer considered competitive by The Cook Political Report.

Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, raised $503,517 last quarter and nearly $3 million this cycle for his CA-49 re-election bid. He has $1.6 million in cash and no debts.

The GOP challenger in the race, Brian Maryott, a San Juan Capistrano councilman, raised $383,249 in the second quarter, and nearly $1.5 million for the cycle. His total includes $255,500 he’s given to his campaign and another $200,000 he’s loaned to himself. He has $211,489 in cash and owes $10,958 to vendors.

While the finances and new Democratic advantage in voter registration suggest an uphill battle, Maryott remains in the second tier of the NRCC’s Young Guns program. And his campaign manager, Patrick Snow, pointed out Maryott raised slightly more than Levin last quarter, if you consider only small-dollar donations. Snow believes the campaign has momentum with local voters heading into the final stretch.

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.

With the election less than four months away, fundraising is expected to intensify, particularly as campaigns figure out ways to bring in donors during the pandemic. The next campaign finance reports, for the quarter that will end Sept. 30, are expected in mid-October.

Source: Orange County Register

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