Democrat Connie Perez is, relatively speaking, a late entry into the 21st Congressional District race.
In the latest campaign finance reports, incumbent David Valadao, a Hanford Republican, will show more than $770,000 cash in his campaign account.
Perez has zilch.
That’s a lot of ground to make up.
To be fair, Perez just announced her entry into the race Oct. 9. The Federal Election Commission website has yet to even list a statement of candidacy for her.
But, at least for now, it isn’t really Valadao that Perez has to worry about.
Her first order of business is to finish no lower than second in the June 2016 primary, in which the top two finishers, regardless of political party, advance to the November general election.
That means she just has to beat the third person in the race, fellow Democrat Daniel T. Parra, who is Fowler’s mayor pro tem.
And Parra’s campaign continues to struggle financially, according to his latest campaign finance report. He raised around $15,000 between July 1 and September 30, and has less than $9,000 in his campaign account when debts are considered. Parra has yet to reach $40,000 raised for the entire election season.
Perez almost certainly has picked up financial pledges as she’s explored a run the past six weeks, possibly totaling more than Parra has in his account.
Whatever the case, Valadao’s massive fundraising lead shows one of the main challenges for Democrats who hope to take him out next year.
In the 21st Congressional District – which includes all of Kings County and parts of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties – Democrats hold a 17-percentage point registration edge over Republicans. President Barack Obama won 55.7 percent of the vote in 2012.
But Valadao has the power of incumbency and a huge campaign account can help buttress that. He raised more than $235,000 between July 1 and September 30, and has raised around $930,000 for his reelection campaign.
As for challengers past, money seems to have no effect on Valadao. He’s 2-0 in congressional elections, and last year he trounced Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria by more than 15-percentage points, even though she raised more than $1.7 million.
Still, both Perez and Parra will have to raise a lot more money to get their name out in the 21st District. Perez, especially, is unknown. She may (or may not) have the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but this is her first run for elective office.
If either Democrat can’t raise money, it makes the task of seriously challenging Valadao that much harder.
Speaking of campaign fundraising, Rep. Jim Costa is continuing his dominance over his two 16th Congressional District Republican challengers.
The Fresno Democrat raised close to $200,000 between July 1 and September 30, and he has $900,000 cash on hand.
Johnny Tacherra, who is making his third straight try at taking out Costa, raised $29,000 and has only around $22,000 in his campaign account.
The other Republican in the race is Madera County Supervisor David Rogers, who continues to outpace Tacherra, but is still far behind Costa.
Rogers, who lives in Chowchilla, raised around $46,000 in the reporting period and has $100,000 in his campaign account.