By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Former Obama administration official James Gore continues to lead the money race in the campaign for the 4th District Sonoma County supervisor seat.
Gore has raised a total of $202,000, with $97,000 coming in the two-month period ending May 17, according to his campaign finance statement released Thursday.
Longtime Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge was second in fundraising in the five-person race to replace north county Supervisor Mike McGuire, who is running for state Senate.
Fudge received $88,000 in contributions in the past two months, bringing her total raised to $169,000.
But Fudge also has benefited from additional independent expenditures by the union-backed Coalition for a Better Sonoma County.
The organization has raised almost $41,000 to support her with their own voter outreach and election materials.
Fudge has $51,000 cash on hand, which she said will pay for two more mailers before the June 3 election.
“I limit my signs, so they wouldn’t litter the landscape,” she said Thursday. “I’m someone who watches every penny and won’t waste a dime.”
Gore listed a cash balance of almost $38,000.
“It’s overwhelming and awesome,” he said of the total contributions. “There have been so many people who have come out and supported us at fundraisers in people’s homes and meet-and-greet (events). It’s going good.”
Third in fundraising was former Healdsburg Mayor Pete Foppiano, who was mailing in his campaign statement overnight. He said he raised about $45,000 in the past two months, bringing his total in the race to about $102,000.
“It’s enough to finish out June 3 and do everything we want to do,” Foppiano said.
Ken Churchill, a winery owner who advocates overhauling pensions, reported almost $52,000 in total contributions, with $40,000 coming in during the most recent two months. He reported an ending balance of $7,160.
“I think I’ve done a good job of spending it wisely,” he said, adding that his mailers have targeted people who vote in the primary, initially concentrating on those who vote by mail, then those who go to the polls.
About $25,000 has come from his own pocket. “It’s the only way to keep up with these folks,” he said of the most prolific fundraisers.
Churchill listed $1,000 in contributions from S.O.S Roads, which seeks to make road repair a higher priority in the county.
Trailing in the spending category was substitute teacher and former UPS manager Keith Rhinehart, who listed $7,589 in expenditures and $6,544 in contributions, with a lot of that from his own pocket.
He told a recent forum audience to vote for him “if you want a supervisor who will watch your money as closely as you watch your own.”
The five candidates are vying to represent a district that stretches from Santa Rosa to the Mendocino County line. It takes in northwest Santa Rosa, the Larkfield-Wikiup area, Windsor, Healdsburg, Geyserville and Cloverdale.
The endorsements and flow of money have split along familiar lines. Gore, a former assistant chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service, has won the endorsement of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the business-oriented Sonoma County Alliance and some of the construction industry.
Fudge, a longtime Windsor council member and champion of the SMART passenger commuter train, has the backing of more liberal and staunch environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Sonoma County Conservation Action and public employee unions.
Gore listed a $2,625 contribution from Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter; $2,750 from Northern California Engineering Contractors Association; and $2,500 from Operating Engineers Local 3, District 10.
Gore also had contributions of $5,500 apiece from grape growers Laura and Rich Giron.
Fudge listed contributions of $5,500 each from William and Cynthia Gallaher, whose company proposed the Bell Village mixed-use project approved last year by the Windsor Town Council.
She also had contributions of $2,750 from Service Employees International Union Local 1021. There were $2,750 contributions each from three other unions: Sonoma Mendocino Lake Building Construction Trades; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Sheet Metal Workers International.
When it comes to the independent expenditure committee that supports Fudge, the largest total number of contributions funneled to the Coalition for a Better Sonoma County — $17,000 — has come from the political action arm of SEIU Local 1021.
A limited liability corporation associated with two mixed-use housing projects in Windsor that have come before the council — Bell Village and Windsor Mill — also contributed $15,000 total to the independent expenditure group.
Fudge emphasized Thursday she has nothing to do with any political action committee.
“I’m not supposed to be involved and I’m not,” she said of her relationship with the independent expenditure group. “There’s not a conflict of interest.”
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.