Political Notebook

Early state candidate fundraising grows in popularity

Joaquin Arambula, D-Kingsburg
Joaquin Arambula, D-Kingsburg

On Monday, state Assembly hopeful Joaquin Arambula sent out a fundraising plea to supporters, looking to collect a final $10,000 in contributions before the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, which was Tuesday.

Arambula couldn’t be reached for comment, so it’s unknown if he was successful. His full fundraising totals will be known at the end of the month when the reports will be posted online. Based on early reporting on the Secretary of State’s website, he’ll at least be at $35,000 — and probably more, especially if he’s anything like his dad, Juan, who got a great early start in his own initial Assembly run.

Still, early pushes like Arambula’s have some political experts scratching their heads. The election is still a year away, so why would raising money this far out even matter?

“Year round campaigning has evolved in the last couple of election cycles,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a longtime Republican strategist and author of the California Target Book, which tracks the state’s elections. “It never used to be this way.”

This doesn’t apply to elected officials, Hoffenblum stressed. They never stop raising money, and big-money Sacramento contributors are only too happy to continue padding their accounts. But candidates like Arambula are seeking open seats.

In Arambula’s case, it is the 31st Assembly District, where current member Henry T. Perea will reach his term limit next year and can’t see reelection.

“Some candidates have not even come forward yet,” Hoffenblum said.

So far in the 31st District, Arambula, a Kingsburg Democrat, is in, as is Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier, a Republican. Others, however, could join.

Hoffenblum thinks this early fundraising only helps pad a campaign consultant’s wallet. He thinks candidates should be busy now securing endorsements and getting known among influential groups and organizations.

Looking back, when Perea first ran for the seat in 2010, he raised nothing in the first six months of 2009. He did, however, ramp up in the second half of the year, raising close to $184,000.

But maybe Juan Arambula is giving his son campaign advice.

When the elder Arambula first ran for the very same Assembly seat in 2004, he raised more than $187,000 in the first six months of 2003.

The political terrain was a bit different in 2004, however, because the primary election was three months earlier, in March instead of June.

Besides state races, federal races also had a June 30 reporting deadline, so in a few weeks political watchers will eagerly look for an early barometer on central San Joaquin Valley congressional races.

Among them are the 16th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Fresno Democrat Jim Costa.

Republican Johnny Tacherra will make his third straight try to oust Costa, and Madera County Supervisor David Rogers looks ready to run, as well. fundraising reports will show how they’re doing so far.

Costa’s report will be scrutinized. He raised just $80,000 in the first three months of this year and spent $78,000, which earned notice for its small amount from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

But Costa says he plans to reach $1 million by year’s end in preparation for his 2016 run for a seventh term in Congress.

Also worth a look is the report of Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel Parra, who is the latest Democrat to try and oust Hanford Republican David Valadao from the 21st Congressional District.

After Fresno Democrat John Hernandez was crushed in 2012, and the well-financed and well-spoken Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria followed suit last year, will anyone give to Parra?