The money is starting to flow into the 14th state Senate District race between incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak and his challenger, Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez.
It’s hardly surprising, given that there are only two competitive state Senate races pitting Republicans against Democrats, and all Democrats have to do is win one of those two to maintain a two-thirds supermajority in the body.
So the GOP is spending big to try and head off the supermajority, and Democrats are spending big to keep it.
Just since Aug. 1, Chavez has raised more than $1.3 million in individual contributions, and Vidak more than $800,000. Both sides are airing television commercials and sending out mail pieces.
In addition, outside groups are weighing in independent of the two campaigns.
Already this week, a $150,000 independent expenditure in support of Vidak made news. That IE money, which came from an organization called the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, went mostly to television commercials, but also some to door hangers, mailings, consultants and polling.
Now comes a second, much bigger independent expenditure for Vidak — more than $715,000 from the California Alliance for Progress and Education.
Most of the cash — almost $650,000 — will go to television, radio and online advertising, so get ready to be bombarded with ads touting Vidak.
The California Alliance for Progress and Education is funded by business groups and companies, including Realtors, the state dental association and the state apartment association. Also among its donors is another organization called Keeping Californians Working, which gave $600,000.
Among donors to Keeping Californians Working? Chevron Corp., which contributed $1 million.
The independent expenditure earlier this week from the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class also included money from Chevron, not to mention fellow oil giants Occidental Petroleum and Tesoro Companies. The three gave $1.5 million.
Interestingly, last year, Chevron gave $100,000 to another independent expenditure group that worked to defeat Vidak and supported his opponent, Democrat Leticia Perez. That was when the seat was open and Vidak and Perez were vying to replace Bakersfield Democrat Michael Rubio, who had resigned. Now, Vidak is the incumbent, having won that special election.
As for Keeping Californians Working, the organization isn’t just supporting Vidak, and isn’t just backing Republicans.
It has also funded an independent expenditure for Jose Solorio, a Southern California Democrat who is running in the state’s other Republican-Democrat competitive state Senate district. And this week it spent around $46,000 for a mailer on behalf of Bakersfield Democrat Rudy Salas, who is seeking reelection in the 32nd Assembly District.