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Local ‘Super PACs’ Making Major Statement In San Diego Mayor’s Race

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San Diego mayoral candidate Bob Filner might be leading in the polls, but he is still behind his opponent Carl DeMaio when it comes to campaign fundraising.

San Diego mayoral candidate Bob Filner might be leading in the polls, but he is still behind his opponent Carl DeMaio when it comes to campaign fundraising.

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Search an interactive map of San Diego mayoral campaign contributions by ZIP code.

That may not be for long. Outside forces -- in the form of what could be called local Super PACS -- are helping to close the gap.

Councilman DeMaio raised about $731,000 in cash from July 1 to Sept. 30. In the same period, Congressman Filner raised less than half that, about $275,000.

Since the start of the election cycle, DeMaio has raised $2.69 million, more than three times as much as Filner at $796,000. DeMaio’s total includes about $700,000 in personal loans and donations.

County parties are showing some force as well, though the race is technically nonpartisan. The local Democratic party gave Filner $32,000 during this last reporting period, for a grand total of about $175,000. The county Republican party is not far behind with $130,000 so far for DeMaio.

Looking at what the candidates themselves are raising and spending only gives half of the story.

In the past few months, several independent expenditure committees, or what could be called local Super PACs, have sprung up in support of and against both candidates.

These committees have no fundraising limits, but they must operate separately from a candidate with no coordination. Committees controlled directly by candidates in San Diego are only allowed to accept $500 per person per election cycle.

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The cash raised by the committees since June underscores their power. For example, if you look at what pro-Filner and anti-DeMaio committees have raised, it adds $1.2 million to the money behind Filner.

San Diegans in Support of Bob Filner for Mayor raised about $605,000 since June. That’s more than twice what Filner has raised through his own committee during that period. The bulk of the donations to this committee came from labor: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO. The federation of unions donated $400,000 to the committee on Sept. 20. The committee reported spending $250,000 during this latest election cycle, mostly on pro-Filner and anti-De Maio television ads.

Another new pro-Filner committee, San Diegans for Bob Filner for Mayor, raised $446,000 -- again much more than Filner raised himself -- in the same period. The committee’s biggest donor was the teachers guild of San Diego and Grossmont Cuyamaca Community Colleges with $100,000. And an anti-DeMaio committee reported raising $10,000 since June.

Taxpayers for Carl DeMaio, a committee formed in support of the councilman, reported raising $85,000 since July 1, bringing its total raised to about $233,000. Major donors to the committee include the Lincoln Club of San Diego ($20,000), developer Thomas Sudberry ($24,000) and political action committees, SD Jobs and New Majority California ($15,000 each). The committee spent $123,000 in this period, mostly on campaign consulting, research and strategy.

New Majority California’s PAC is the largest Republican PAC in the state, according to its website. The PAC also donated $10,000 to the San Diego County Republican Party, which supports DeMaio.

San Diegans for Reform in Opposition to Bob Filner, an anti-Filner committee, raised nearly $404,000 since June 30. Almost 70 percent of that money came from donations by the Lincoln Club of San Diego. The committee reported spending more than $400,000 on television buys against Filner.

Campaign spending is following the same pattern as contributions, and both sides appear to be focusing on television advertising. From July 1 to Sept. 30, Filner spent $280,000 to DeMaio’s $437,000. Both candidates’ largest expenditures were on television ad buys, and the super PACs have followed suit, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ad production and air time.

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