13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash
By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
Three months before Election Day, challengers Randy Rowse and Deborah Schwartz both are outpacing Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo in 2021 campaign fundraising, documents show.
An even bigger surprise to be found in new campaign filings posted on Monday was developer and District 4 City Council challenger Barrett Reed: he's so far raised $161,541 -- more than any of the citywide candidates for mayor and more than $25 per voter in the last election in the district.
The new reports, which are on the city website, cover the calendar year period Jan. 1- June 30. This newsletter version of our column updates and adds detail to a version published on the Newsmakers website earlier, and also corrects error: the amount Murillo carried over from 2020 is $50,000, not $20,000. Here are six key takeaways.
See how they run
Murillo, who has served on council for 10 years and is seeking a new five-year term as mayor, started the calendar year with $50,117 in the bank from 2020 fundraising and previous campaigns, but the $85,096 she has raised in 2021 significantly trails two of her rivals for the calendar year. Monday was the deadline for filing, and the report for entrepreneur James Joyce was not online at post time; a campaign strategist kindly provided rough numbers for us.
Year to date (Jan-June 30 2021)
Randy Rowse $131,921
Deborah Schwartz. 105,965
Cathy Murillo 85,096
James Joyce 31,000
Rowse, the former City Council member and restaurateur, also leads the mayor narrowly in cash on hand, a campaign measure closely tracked by political professionals.
Cash on hand (as of July 1)
Randy Rowse $124,714
Cathy Murillo 114,240
Deborah Schwartz 86,029
James Joyce 18,000
Murillo began raising money late last year, before the current $4,900 cap on individual contributions went into effect:
Overall raised (2021 and prior)
While far from determinative, the contest to raise campaign money, with the new state legal limit on individual contributions, represents an early gauge of support for a candidate in the community and beyond.
PLA pays off
By far, the biggest chunk of Murillo's donations -- 46 percent -- comes from craft unions that stand to benefit from the city's new Project Labor Agreement policy, which requires the city to use union workers, almost exclusively, on public works projects of $5 million or more.
The incumbent received a total of $38,850 from these unions, including Carpenters, Electricians, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Plasterers, Sheet Metal Workers and at least five different Plumbers union locals. Another 10 percent slice -- about $8,500 -- comes from the local Democratic Party and Democratic elected officials, including $4,900 from Supervisor Gregg Hart and $250 each from council colleagues Mike Jordan and Oscar Gutierrez.
She also received a significant amount from local markets, groceries and liquor stores, which face a new ordinance to restrict certain alcohol sales.
Old line SB for Randy
Rowse has received by far the most individual contributions in 2021 -- 215 to Murillo's 125 and Schwartz's 87.
Most of his contributions have been in amounts of $1,000 or less, although he received the maximum $4,900 from real estate investor Richard Berti and from Ben Howland, basketball coach of Mississippi State University (and a former assistant at UCSB); at least $4,500 from real estate partnerships associated with downtown investor Jim Knell and a like amount from investor Earl Minnis; along with $2,000 from the California Association of Realtors PAC.
Deborah's restaurant-real estate score
Schwartz received a large number of maximum $4,900 contributions, from real estate developers and restaurateurs, some of whom are both, including Herb Simon; investor James Argyropoulos; Joe's Cafe; Quattro Inc. restaurant company; a company run by restaurateur Gene Montasanto; Lucky's Village Inc., the company that own's Lucky's restaurant; a development company owned by investor Cole Cervantes and the California Real Estate PAC.
She also received $3,000 each from developer and real estate manager Peter Lewis, real estate broker Andrew Adler and construction and design firm owner Darrell Becker; $2,500 from Meridian Real Estate Management; $2,000 from retired Raytheon CEO Dan Burnham; $1,500 from developer Janna Price ; $1,000 from publisher Sara Miller McCune, Democratic donor Judith Hopkinson and realty firm Beachside Partners; $500 from architect Brian Cearnal, former Supervisor Susan Rose and fellow Planning Commissioner and council hopeful Reed; $250 from SBUSD board member Laura Capps.
Barrett's Gold Rush
Four years ago, when Kristen Sneddon was elected to represent District 4, there was a total of 6,298 votes cast for all three candidates in the race, with the incumbent prevailing on 3,237 ballots.
If those numbers are roughly similar this year, developer Reed already has raised $25.64 per voter, or just under $50 (that's $49.90 for those keeping score at home) per winning voter.
Sneddon carried over $5,000 from her previous race, and raised what in ordinary times would be a perfectly respectable amount clearly not ordinary times in this race:
Barrett Reed $161,541
Kristen Sneddon 45,538 ($49,364 cash on hand).
Reed's contributor list reads like a who's who of Santa Barbara real estate development, sales and management, including maximum $4,900 contributions from The Towbes Group; investors Richard Berti, Peter Lewis, Alex Argyropoloulos and Neil Dipaola; Sotheby's executive Arthur Nelson; landscape architect Jeff Gordon and Laurie and Otto Gaither of the construction firm family, as well as at least $4,500 from entities associated with downtown investor Jim Knell, among others.
Along with many other contributions, Reed also got $3,500 from Coast Village Investments; $2,500 from builder Darrell Becker and from F&H Investments; $2,000 from Southwest Construction Co. and from realtor Dusty Baker.
Most of Sneddon's donations were for less than $500, although she got $4,900 each from the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians and retired SBCC professor Karl Halbach; $2,500 from retired clinical pharmacist Rick Closson; $2,000 from attorney Laurie Ashton; $1,500 from investor John Price; $1,000 each from attorney Cori Hayman, venture capitalist Brett Queener, environmental advocate Lee Heller and former Mayor Lodge; $500 each from former Mayor Helene Schneider and from the local Democratic Party.
Inquiring minds want to know: How many full color, four-page campaign brochure must show up in the mailbox before the Law of Diminishing Returns begins to kick in?
Other provinces heard from
In District 5, incumbent council member Eric Friedman reported raising $48,601 so far this year, and has $53,522 cash on hand. With the deadline for filing this Friday, he may face opposition from UCSB Sociology Professor John Foran, who pulled papers earlier.
In downtown District 6, appointed incumbent Meagan Harmon reported raising $28,738 this year; however, it earlier appeared Harmon would face token opposition, if any, and so some potential contributors may have looked to put their campaign dollars elsewhere.
Last week, however, longtime City Hall executive Nina Johnson announced a challenge to Harmon; she has not yet been required to file campaign spending papers, but is expected to gain considerable downtown business support, meaning that raising and spending in this race likely will soar by the next campaign filings are due on Sept. 23, to cover the period July 1-Sept. 18.