Swearengin gets two big donations, but has GOP competition in state controller run

Posted by John Ellis on April 1, 2014 

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin

UPDATE: On Friday, Wawona Frozen Foods President Bill Smittcamp contributed $6,800 to Swearengin's state controller campaign.

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Almost a month after announcing her bid for state controller, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin finally has some big-money donors in her quest to become the state’s next controller.

Swearengin’s campaign on Tuesday posted two donations — both for the maximum $6,800 — on the Secretary of State’s website.

One is from Charles Munger Jr., a businessman, Republican activist and one of the state’s most influential GOP donors. The other is from Fresno businessman Richard Spencer.

Swearengin on March 5 filed paperwork to seek the statewide office. A little more than a week later, she attended the state Republican convention in Burlingame, where she introduced herself to the party’s grass-roots activists — and chatted up some potential donors.

Her consultant, Tim Clark, said soon after that the money would start coming. The campaign’s fundraising goals, he said, are $5 million to $10 million.

Swearengin’s first election hurdle is the June 3 primary. There will be six candidates on the ballot. Under the state’s primary election rules, the top two finishers will move on to a November showdown.

But one of the Swearengin campaign’s election assumptions has turned out not to be true.

When Swearengin announced her state controller campaign, Clark predicted she would be the only Republican on the June primary ballot. She’s not. David Evans, an accountant and former mayor of California City, a town in Kern County’s high desert, is also on the ballot.

But his campaign has no fundraising account set up so far, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Most of the media attention so far has gone to Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, and Clark said Swearengin’s campaign strategy has her moving on to the November general election while Yee and Pérez split the Democratic Party vote.

Others on the ballot are Democrat Tammy Blair of Lakewood and Green Party candidate Laura Wells of Oakland.

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