In the first 77 days of 2012, the five candidates for the 72nd Assembly District seat – which represents portions of Los Alamitos and Seal Beach – pulled in nearly $400,000 in combined donations, newly released figures show.
- The top fundraiser was Troy Edgar, businessman and mayor of Los Alamitos, who received $217,760 between Jan. 1 and March 17, according to California's Secretary of State. Of that, $100,000 was money he loaned to his own campaign.
- Orange County Board of Education member Long Pham listed $103,507 in contributions. But almost all of it ($100,000) was a loan to his own campaign. Pham spent almost three times as much as Edgar: $43,397 to Edgar’s $14,721.
- Business owner Travis Allan received $58,505, of which $50,000 was money he loaned to his campaign. He spent $6,038.
- Garden Grove Planning Commissioner and businessman Joe Dovinh received $8,485 in contributions, spent about $9,500, and loaned no money to his campaign.
- Bringing up the rear was retired police commander Albert Alaya, who reported no money raised or spent.
The figures do not include contributions or expenditures reported late. California law requires candidates to disclose their financial contributions and expenditures to the Secretary of State by March 22.
In California, the maximum a person can donate to a candidate for the state Legislature is $3,900, and the maximum a small contributor committee can donate is $7,800. A political party can make unlimited donations, according to the latest information from the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Running for the Legislature is an increasingly expensive undertaking, according to Tracy Westen, vice president and CEO of the Center for Governmental Studies, a nonpartisan research group formerly headquartered in Los Angeles.
“Wealth has always been a factor, [but] in the last 10 years, it’s become more important,” Westen said. “Politics is increasingly becoming a game for wealthier individuals.”
In general, the candidate who spends more money has an advantage, but not always. Case in point: Meg Whitman spent millions of her own money and ended up losing to Jerry Brown in the last race for governor.
The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary election for the 72nd district will advance to the Nov. 6 general election, regardless of party preference or whether one candidate receives a majority of votes in the primary.
The newly formed 72nd District also includes portions of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove and Santa Ana.