Political Notebook

Arambula’s 31st Assembly District fundraising juggernaut rolls on

Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula, left, has raised more than $740,000 this year in the 31st Assembly District race. His main opponent, Fresno Republican Clint Olivier, has raised around $420,000.
Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula, left, has raised more than $740,000 this year in the 31st Assembly District race. His main opponent, Fresno Republican Clint Olivier, has raised around $420,000. photos provided by candidates

Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula continues to both raise and spend money at an incredible clip in his quest for the 31st Assembly District seat.

In a campaign finance report released Thursday, Arambula reports raising more than $742,000 for the election between Jan. 1 and March 19, and spending $666,000 during that same time.

Could the astronomical spending be paying dividends as Arambula, Fresno Republican Clint Olivier and Caruthers Democrat Ted Miller do battle ahead of the looming April 5 special election?

Already, more than 13,846 people have voted. That means that turnout is already just above 8 percent.

Of those who have voted, half are Democrats, 35 percent are Republicans. And 28 percent are not regular voters, according to Political Data Inc., which provides voter rolls and election data to California political campaigns.

One axiom is that Republicans are more dedicated voters, and more dedicated voters tend to be the ones who vote early. Could these early voting numbers bode well for Arambula?

His nearly overflowing coffers allow for a campaign that can afford to do things many other campaigns would consider a luxury, such as polling and extensive voter outreach.

Of Arambula’s total, more than $272,000 has come from the California Democratic Party, which has paid for phone banking, media ad buys and media production costs, postage and lodging for volunteers, among other costs.

The 31st District has been in Democratic Party hands for four decades, and it’s pretty clear the party has no interest in losing it now, especially as incoming Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, assumes the post.

When Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea resigned the post a year before the end of his final term to take a job with the pharmaceutical industry, it forced Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special election. Republicans – who perform well in special elections – viewed it as a prime opportunity to steal a seat away from the Democrats.

In comparison to Arambula, Olivier has raised $423,000 since the start of the year and has spent nearly $360,000. Of Olivier’s total, more than $205,000 has come from the California Republican Party, and of that $22,000 went to paid precinct walkers. In total, to date Arambula has spent $300,000 more than Olivier – and that doesn’t include outside groups working independently to elect Arambula. Those groups have raised more than $500,000.

Arambula’s fundraising is indicative of an incumbent. His cash is coming largely from moneyed Sacramento interests and deep-pocketed political action committees.

Just to show how much money Arambula has, he’s left $169,000 in his Assembly account for a full two-year term, a campaign that is looming as soon as the special election ends. Olivier, by comparison, has less than $5,000 in that account.

Miller hasn’t even raised enough money in the race to file a campaign finance report.

The April 5 special election is only to fill the balance of Perea’s final term in office, which ends in December. If none of the three candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two advance to a June 7 runoff.

But then there’s round two: A June 7 primary and then a November general election to fill a full two-year 31st District term. The winner of that race will be seated in December.

31st Assembly District fundraising

Joaquin Arambula, D-Kingsburg

Raised: $742,573

Spent: $666,667

Cash on hand: $116,088.05, but $90,181 in unpaid bills

Clint Olivier, R-Fresno

Raised: $423,040

Spent: $359,204

Cash on hand: $72,562, but $12,926 in unpaid bills

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