Money Race for Mayor Tops $1 Million

By Gene Cubbison
|  Monday, Aug 1, 2011  |  Updated 9:21 PM PDT
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2012 Mayoral Candidates See Dollar Signs

Carl DeMaio leads the San Diego mayoral candidate pack in funds raised.

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2012 Mayoral Candidates See Dollar Signs

More than $1 million in fundraising has been collected for the race.
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With 10 months to go until next year's primary election, the money chase in the San Diego mayor's race has already topped a million bucks.

Even more frantic fundraising is expected in the meantime.

The numbers are filed by the candidates' official committees in required in semi-annual financial disclosure reports, due or postmarked by midnight Monday.

They reflect the proceeds of a 25-day fundraising window because municipal law bars candidates from collecting contributions more than a year before an election; the municipal primary is scheduled June 5, 2012.

Councilman Carl DeMaio leads the pack, having raised $545,000.

State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is next, with $320,000.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, $157,000.

Congressman Bob Filner's financial disclosures are pending.

But veteran political pundits warn, don't draw long-range conclusions about these candidates' viability based on the dollar signs in this snapshot.

Many observers are amazed at how easily Fletcher amassed such a great treasury.

They see him as likely to scare up a lot more campaign cash -- especially from business and industry backers.

"Now that we're in the next reporting period," says political strategist John Dadian, "the business owner will say to his 100 employees 'This is who I support. I hope you come to this fundraiser.' It's basically a pyramid-type system that you can keep raising money with all your contacts."

DeMaio is on track to raise a million bucks all by himself.

He's already funded a quarter of that amount from his personal fortune.

Filner brings three decades of political fundraising experience to the table.

Dumanis, courthouse gravitas and past listings on citywide ballots because of her status as a countywide office-holder.

Never mind their comparatively modest fundraising, says political strategist Larry Remer: "They get the idea that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. They don't have to 'show' early to prove that they have chops. Fletcher needed to show early."

He's one of three 'name' Republicans now in the nonpartisan race.

Filner, the only 'name' Democrat.

He has until midnight to file his financials -- at the very least, a $36,000 transfer from his Congressional fundraising committee -- with the City Clerk’s office electronically, or have them postmarked.

Contributions known as "independent expenditures', made by outside interests that cannot coordinate with the candidates' commitees, will soon enough figure into the political calculus.

In this realm, money -- famously described as "the mother's milk of politics" -- is a prerequisite for name recognition and promoting a candidate's message.

But 'big money' is no guarantee of electoral success, as countless deep-pockets candidates have learned.

The proverbial 'unexpected' is often a game-changer in and of itself.

"It's a long time between now and June," Remer observes. "Some foibles could happen; you never know. Maybe the field narrows and one of these contenders drops out."

A total of fourteen mayoral candidates are listed by the elections division of the City Clerk's office.

Anyone else who wants to jump in has until next March to file the required papers.

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