The last time Fresno had a competitive mayor’s race in 2008, outside special interest groups spent almost $500,000.
Ashley Swearengin won that election, though most of the outside money was spent in support of her opponent, Henry T. Perea.
This year, when Lee Brand and Henry R. Perea clashed in the battle to replace the termed out Swearengin, the outside cash infusion fell well short of what was spent eight years ago.
In fact, it isn’t even close.
The total looks to be around $150,000, based on reports filed with the Fresno City Clerk’s office.
Brand, an outgoing city councilman, was the main beneficiary of outside money this year. Around 74 percent of the independent money went to Brand, with the remainder going to Perea, an outgoing Fresno County supervisor and the father of Henry T. Perea.
Of all the rules governing independent spending, the main one is that the outside group is not allowed to coordinate or communicate with the candidate it is supporting.
The California Apartment Association was the biggest outside spender, with close to $42,000 going to support Brand.
Fresno police and firefighters joined forces for an independent expenditure supporting Perea. The groups spent around $31,000 on television and radio commercials as well as campaign mail.
One Putt Broadcasting, which owns several radio stations in town, ran close to $32,000 in radio ads supporting Brand.
Others that ran smaller independent campaigns were the Lincoln Club of Fresno County (opposing Perea), the Fresno Chamber of Commerce (supporting Brand) and Fresno firefighters (supporting Perea).