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Incumbents outpacing rivals in fundraising

Schiff, Sherman and Gatto are winning the money race by a healthy margin.

August 21, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk,

If dollars were votes, the local races for Congress and Assembly would be landslides.

Incumbent Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and state Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) all have substantial fundraising advantages over their rivals on the November ballot.

Challengers face long odds because of the power of incumbency and legislative districts that favor one party or the other, according to political observers.


"In politics, money is attracted to power," said Ethan Rarick, director of the Robert P. Matsui Center on Politics and Public Service at UC Berkeley. "If you have power and have a good chance of keeping it, you'll attract it."

Sherman, who was first elected to a district that includes part of Burbank in 1996, had nearly $2.8 million in the bank as of June 30 and has raised more than $1.2 million since his last election, according to the Federal Election Commission. His rival, businessman Mark Reed, has raised $18,000.

Schiff, seeking his sixth two-year term representing a district that includes Burbank and Glendale, has more than $1.8 million and has raised $878,000 since Jan. 1, 2009. His rival, businessman John Colbert, has raised $239,000. Both Colbert and Reed are Republicans.

Between the time Gatto won the Democratic Party nomination for Assembly in April and the June special election in which he won the right to finish the term of former Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, he received thousands of dollars from unions, Indian tribes and other heavy hitters in state politics. Gatto raised more than $38,000 between May 23 and June 30, according to state records.

Republican Sunder Ramani, who like Gatto raised hundreds of thousands of dollars before the primary and special election, raised $4,500 during the same period, according to the California secretary of state.

Colbert, a security software executive trying to topple Schiff, acknowledged the disadvantage. But he said money may not translate into votes.

"The politics of old are not necessarily dictating the outcome of elections today," said Colbert, who is running on a platform of fiscal restraint. "The mood of the electorate is going to determine the outcome."

And given the popular discontent with the economy, that mood may better serve his campaign, he said.

"It's wholly anti-incumbent in a big way," Colbert said.

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