Fresno County Democrats are continuing to lead rival Republicans in signing up new voters, data released Friday by the Secretary of State's Office shows.
The new voter registration numbers -- the last that will be released before Tuesday's election -- show there are 6,396 more Democrats than Republicans in Fresno County.
In raw numbers, it is 164,663 Democrats to 158,267 Republicans.
Last month, the Democrats led by 2,635, and in May, it was 2,700.
Also showing significant growth was the roll of voters who are declining to join a political party, or are registered with one that isn't recognized by the state, such as the once-relevant Reform Party.
In May, these people with "no party preference" were at 61,869. Last month, it was 62,311. And now, it is 67,417.
The latest numbers mark a continuing reversal of fortune for the local GOP. In 2000, Republicans in Fresno County overtook Democrats in voter registration totals for the first time in anyone's memory. That lead peaked in 2004 with a GOP advantage of more than 24,000 voters.
But by the middle of 2010, Democrats had retaken the lead. They haven't relinquished it since.
The city of Fresno also remains solidly Democratic, with 21,350 more registered voters than Republicans.
While Republicans lag in Fresno County, they are continuing their domination of rival Democrats in the rest of the central San Joaquin Valley -- Tulare, Kings and Madera counties.
As for the local congressional races, Democrats are dominating voter registration in the two west-side districts -- the 16th, where Fresno Democrat Jim Costa is seeking reelection, and the 21st, which is an open seat featuring a battle between Republican Assembly Member David Valadao and Fresno Democrat John Hernandez.
At the same time, Republican voters rule in the east-side districts currently held by GOP incumbents Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock.
Of particular interest is the Hernandez-Valadao clash, because political prognosticators have dubbed Valadao the clear favorite even though Republicans lag in registration. Hernandez has vowed to get Democrats to the polls.
The registration numbers are through Oct. 22.
-- John Ellis
Valley has presidential fundraising split
President Barack Obama has attracted more Valley donors for his reelection campaign than Republican Mitt Romney.
But when it comes to the local cash haul, Romney rules.
Take Fresno, for instance. Obama had 2,214 donors with Fresno mailing addresses, while Romney had just 696. But those 696 donors gave Romney $438,050, while Obama's more than 2,200 contributed $223,716.
The average per donor: $629.38 for Romney, $101 for Obama.
Across the region, it is a similar story -- Exeter, Visalia, Kingsburg, Hanford, Madera and Merced mailing addresses all show more Obama donors, but more total money for Romney.
It even holds true in a Republican stronghold like Clovis, where Obama had 455 donors to Romney's 259, but Romney raised $135,107 to Obama's $42,700.
Given Romney's local high-dollar fundraisers, this is hardly surprising. The biggest came in May, when Romney raked in more than $1 million at the Sanger-area home of prominent west-side rancher John Harris and his wife, Carole.
Obama, by comparison, has never held a Valley fundraiser. His campaign donations came from local people who sent a check. The only exception: if a local wealthy Democrat gave at one of Obama's Los Angeles or Bay Area fundraisers.
-- John Ellis
Will cash be difference for Whalen, Bigelow?
Bob Whalen in Assembly District 23 and Frank Bigelow in Assembly District 5 have won the money war against their respective opponents. But can they use their cash advantages to overcome second-place finishes in the June primary election?
In the 23rd District -- which covers eastern Fresno County and a sparsely populated chunk of mountainous Tulare County -- former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson won 39% of the vote in a five-person primary. Whalen, a Clovis City Council member, finished second with 25.5%. Under the state's new primary system, the two advanced to a November general election showdown, even though they are both Republicans.
In the most recent campaign finance reports -- the final full reports before Tuesday's election -- Whalen had raised almost $366,000 this year, while Patterson was at $201,588.
Whalen ruled the latest reporting period, which covers the first three weeks of October, raising $47,151 to Patterson's $19,175.
It's a similar battle in the 5th District -- which runs from Madera County north through the Mother Lode to Placer County -- where Bigelow is challenging Calaveras County businessman Rico Oller. Both are Republicans, and Oller finished first in June with 34% of the vote to Bigelow's 29%.
But Bigelow has raised a huge amount of cash -- almost $640,000 this year. Oller, in the meantime, has raised around $345,000, but $100,000 of that is a loan to himself.
Bigelow finished it off with a surge in the first three weeks of October, raising nearly $90,000 to Oller's $30,546.
-- John Ellis
Odds and ends
It's hard to get all seven Fresno City Council members to agree on much of anything, but it appears they've come together on State Center Community College District trustee Richard Caglia.
Lee Brand, Andreas Borgeas, Blong Xiong, Larry Westerlund, Sal Quintero, Oliver Baines and Clint Olivier have all endorsed Caglia for re-election over challenger Kevin Hall in District 7 on the State Center board.
A few weeks ago Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian not only announced her endorsement of Jim Patterson over Bob Whalen in the 23rd Assembly District race, she also sent her constituents a letter urging them to support the former Fresno mayor as well.
Now, we know how much that cost.
Patterson's latest campaign finance report shows Poochigian spent $3,635.52 on postage, envelopes and letters.
Otto Lee, the Bay Area Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District, is now a Clovis resident.
Lee, a lawyer and former City Council member and mayor of Sunnyvale, had lived in the Bay Area during the primary. But this week his campaign said he was a Clovis resident.
Fresno County elections officials confirmed Lee changed his voter registration from Sunnyvale to a Clovis apartment in June.
-- John Ellis
Saturday voting at elections offices
--Most Valley elections offices will be open today for voters who want to cast their votes or simply drop off a mail ballot for Tuesday's presidential election.
--Fresno County Clerk's office, 2221 Kern St., Fresno, open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For the clerk's election website, go to fblinks.com/fcvote
--Madera County Clerk's office, 200 West Fourth St., Madera, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the clerk's website, go to fblinks.com/mcvote
--Tulare County Elections Department, 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the department's website, go to fblinks.com/tcvote
-- Kings County Elections Department will be closed today but has a drop-box for mail ballots at its office, 1400 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford. For the department's website, go to fblinks.com/kcvote
-- The Fresno Bee