By John Wildermuth
Published 3:12 pm, Friday, October 24, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown has found a use for the $23 million that’s been gathering dust in his campaign treasury this year. He’s decided to give it away.
Of the $3.42 million Brown spent between Oct.1 and 18, the closing date for the latest state campaign finance report, only about $62,000 went toward his effort to win an unprecedented fourth term as governor. The rest of the money, more than $3.36 million, was used to boost Propositions 1 and 2, the state water bond and the proposed state rainy day fund.
Here’s another indication about how worried the governor is about his race against Orange County Republican Neel Kashkari. With election day less than two weeks away, the governor left California Thursday to fly back east for the 50th reunion of his Yale Law School class. He’s not expected back in California until Sunday.
Brown’s campaign, including the fundraising, remains on cruise control. He collected almost $750,000 in the first part of the month, leaving him with more than $20 million in the bank.
Although a Public Policy Institute of California poll released this week shows Brown with a 52 percent to 36 percent lead over Kashkari, the Orange County resident put another $1 million of his own money into his campaign last week, bringing his total contribution to $3.1 million.
Even after that contribution, Kashkari had only $841,000 left in the bank for the final weeks of the campaign, along with $140,000 in unpaid bills.
It’s not only the candidates who have come up with cash for the last push to Nov. 4. In what’s expected to be a tight race for state superintendent of public instruction, incumbent Tom Torlakson has about $100,000 in his account, after subtracting unpaid bills, while challenger Marshall Tuck had a net balance of around $87,000.
But an independent expenditure committee financed mostly by the California Teachers Association has put up more than $3.3 million to back Torlakson, while another committee calling for changes in the way schools are run has spent $4.4 million on Tuck’s behalf.
In the race for state controller, both Democrat Betty Yee and Republican Ashley Swearengin have less than $55,000 in unencumbered cash, but in the past week a labor group has spent more than $400,000 on a series of mailers attacking Swearengin.
Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima (Los Angeles County) has a big cash advantage over Republican businessman Pete Peterson in the contest for secretary of state. Padilla has about $220,000 in the bank, while Peterson’s campaign is in the red with $57,576 in the bank and $64,351 in unpaid bills.
The other statewide races have Democrats with comfortable leads in both in the polls and at the bank. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and termed-out Controller John Chiang, who’s running for state treasurer, all have better than $2.3 million in their campaign accounts and are running against Republicans who are struggling to stay in the black.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a Plan B for at least one of those threatened Republicans. State Sen. Ted Gaines of Rocklin (Placer County) may be $28,000 in the red in his run for state insurance commissioner, but he already has $184,000 in the bank for his state Senate re-election campaign in 2016.
John Wildermuth is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @jfwildermuth