By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch raised nearly twice the cash contributions as her campaign rival, Deputy District Attorney Victoria Shanahan, in the six-month period ending last month.
Ravitch collected $43,000 from donors including businessman Henry Trione, members of Congress and the Sonoma County Alliance political action committee, bringing her cash total for 2013 to about $86,000, according to reports released Jan. 31.
Shanahan, who announced her candidacy in the June 3 race in August, raised about $22,000 in cash, largely from past and present co-workers, family members and local attorneys, including Clay and Kim Clement.
Political watchers said the totals suggest less interest in the race than in previous years, where candidates raised a combined $250,000. Petaluma political analyst Brian Sobel said Ravitch’s 4-to-1 fundraising edge was predictable given her incumbent status.
“Nobody sees this as a race to watch,” Sobel said. “There isn’t enough there there.”
Dave McCuan, a Sonoma State University political science professor, agreed people are contributing to other races that are seen as more hotly contested.
But McCuan said that could change if Ravitch makes a decision before June 3 about whether to charge a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez. Shanahan recently criticized Ravitch’s handling of the controversial case, saying she lacked speed and transparency in reaching a decision.
McCuan said a ruling within the recommended 90-day timeframe could “set fire to this race.”
“It could change the dynamics,” McCuan said. “It’s no longer about inside baseball. This election quickly becomes who can out-raise the other.”
Meanwhile, Ravitch said the donations she’s received are an acknowledgment of her good work. She said they come from people who “make up the fabric” of Sonoma County, including friends, colleagues and former students at Empire College School of Law. Among her contributors were family members, judges and county department heads, finance reports show.
Campaigns for Rep. Mike Thompson and Rep. Jared Huffman, both Democrats who represent parts of Sonoma County, also contributed to Ravitch’s campaign.
“What’s remarkable to me is the number of people who have come forward to support my re-election bid,” Ravitch said Tuesday. “I’m really honored. I’m particularly pleased at the broad cross-section of supporters I have.”
Shanahan said she wasn’t surprised to collect less than her boss, whom she described as a “career politician” who has been campaigning since her first attempt at office in 2006. She vowed to forge ahead with her own “grassroots” candidacy, saying some donors may have given before they realized they had a choice in the race.
“I hope I’m the candidate for the people,” Shanahan said. “My message is that I’m representing the people of Sonoma County, not big money.”
Ravitch, who has about $66,000 remaining, spent contributions on campaign materials, consultants and polling or research, according to the financial reports.
Shanahan, who has $6,000 left, paid for fundraising events, website design and a $12,000 campaign survey conducted before she announced her bid, the reports show.
In addition to the cash, the candidates reported $18,000 in non-monetary contributions such as wine and gifts sold at fundraising auctions.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.