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49th Congressional Candidates Jockey For Money, Attention

A map of the 49th Congressional District is shown in this graphic.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A map of the 49th Congressional District is shown in this graphic.

The latest campaign fundraising disclosures show which candidates in the race to replace Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, have the most cash on hand to build name recognition and win voters during the crucial last few weeks before the June 5 primary election.

Sixteen candidates are running in North County’s 49th congressional district, but only eight of them — four Democrats and four Republicans — have raised more than $200,000 and stand a chance of winning one of the top two spots in June.


The candidate who has spent the least on his campaign so far, California Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, is a front runner. While the other major candidates have all spent more than $100,000, and in some cases more than $1 million, Chavez has spent just $18,000. He has raised about $103,000, has received a $100,000 loan and has almost $185,000 to spend over the seven weeks before the primary election.

Diane Harkey of Orange County, who was endorsed by Issa and the Republican Party, raised a little more than $300,000, while San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar raised over $260,000. They each have about $180,000 cash to spend.

Brian Maryott, mayor of San Juan Capistrano, has spent the most among the Republican front-runners, mainly funded from $400,000 he loaned his campaign. He has raised $20,000 in individual contributions and has less than $60,000 on hand.

Photo credit:

The leading Republican candidates for the 49th Congressional District, campaign fundraising totals as of March 31, 2018.


The Democrats have been in the race since well before Issa declared in January he would not run again. They have all raised significantly more money than the Republicans, and have more to spend in the next two months on catching voter attention.

The candidate who has raised the most individual contributions among either Democrats or Republicans is Mike Levin of Orange County, who has amassed $1.5 million. He has spent about $1 million and has $515,000 cash to spend.

But money is not a reliable indicator of success: Democratic front-runner Doug Applegate has raised nearly $800,000 but has the least cash on hand — $235,000 — heading into the final stretch.

Self-made real estate investor Paul Kerr has loaned himself $1.6 million and raised $338,000 in individual contributions. He has already spent $1.6 million on TV ads and a flurry of mailers and door hangers, to build name recognition. That leaves him with $345,000 cash on hand.

Photo credit:

Democratic candidates for the 49th Congressional District campaign fundraising totals as of March 31, 2018.

The candidate with the most financial resources to make an impact in these final weeks is Democrat Sara Jacobs. Jacobs' family — she is the granddaughter of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs — has backed her to the tune of more than $1 million, and she has raised more than $500,000 from individual contributions. Jacobs has run some cable TV ads but has spent only about a third of the money Kerr has spent to build name recognition, keeping her powder dry for the final run-up to the primary. She still has $1 million in the bank to work with.

Political consultant Tom Shepard said voters can expect to see a flood of candidate advertising in coming weeks.

“The absentee ballots go out the first week in May,” Shepard said, “and by then the candidates who have limited name ID have to have gotten themselves to a place where those early absentee voters know who they are and are willing to select them, so I think you’re going to see significant spending over the next couple of weeks.”

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