Political Notebook

Poochigian has political cash stash that could be used this year

Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian is passing on seeking a third term. She will leave office at the end of 2016.
Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian is passing on seeking a third term. She will leave office at the end of 2016. Photo provided by Debbie Poochigian

From the moment Debbie Poochigian launched her ultimately successful Fresno County supervisor campaign in 2007, she has proven herself a prodigious fundraiser.

She raised more than $588,000 that year en route to winning the seat in 2008. In the years since, she never has taken her foot off the fundraising gas pedal.

Now, as Poochigian passes on seeking a third term and prepares to leave office at the end of the year, that campaign bank account is as healthy as ever.

As of Dec. 31, the total was $703,493.

Don’t expect Poochigian to sit on that mountain of cash this year.

She said it was a safe bet that she will be weighing in on one or more political races in 2016. What is unknown is which one. Or ones.

“Stay tuned,” Poochigian said in a text message.

There certainly are plenty of potential avenues.

It’s highly doubtful that Poochigian is a fan of Clovis Councilman Nathan Magsig, who is seeking her supervisor seat. In 2008, Poochigian beat Magsig to win the supervisor seat – and spent more than $660,000 in the process.

Could Clovis businessman Alex Ott, who is also seeking the seat, be the beneficiary of some Poochigian cash? There’s no contribution limits at the county level.

How about the Fresno mayor’s race, where five people are seeking to replace the termed-out Ashley Swearengin? If Poochigian chose this route, it most likely would be some sort of independent expenditure, either to support or oppose a candidate. Individual contributions are capped at $4,200 per election.

Might Poochigian boost Doug Vagim’s long-shot bid? He could use the help. Or maybe community leader H. Spees? Fresno City Councilman Lee Brand? Who knows?

Don’t count out Henry R. Perea in his mayoral quest. Poochigian is a Republican while Perea is a Democrat, but the two unlikely allies found some common ground on the county Board of Supervisors.

Or Poochigian might instead decide to do some issue ads to drive the mayoral debate.

Those aren’t the only options, but it does seem likely that if Poochigian gets involved, it will be at the local level. She always could spread the money around to Assembly or state Senate candidates that she likes or those in other state races, or she could stash it away for an unknown future run.

Quite possibly, she could put together a combination of strategies.

As Poochigian says, stay tuned.