Political Notebook

Brand dominates Fresno mayoral fundraising; Perea a strong second

Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea has raised more than $213,000 and had $148,117 in his account on April 23 for the Fresno mayor’s race. He was second to Lee Brand in fundraising.
Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea has raised more than $213,000 and had $148,117 in his account on April 23 for the Fresno mayor’s race. He was second to Lee Brand in fundraising. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

The latest money totals are in, and at least in the fundraising battle, Lee Brand is dominating the Fresno mayor’s race.

Brand, currently a Fresno City councilman, has cobbled together more than $287,000 in the race and had $292,000 cash on hand as of April 23. Brand’s fundraising total includes a $100,000 loan he made to his campaign, but does not include more than $143,000 he moved over last year from his City Council account. If his council money is included, Brand’s total cash raised increases to more than $430,000.

And it doesn’t stop there.

“I plan to raise another $100,000 before June 7,” Brand said, referring to the day of the election.

The closest fundraising competitor to Brand in the mayor’s race is Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea. He has raised more than $213,000 and had $148,117 in his account on April 23, the close of the fundraising period.

So, while Perea is running a strong second in fundraising, Brand still has almost double his cash as the race shifts into high gear. Voters can start casting ballots next Monday ahead of the June 7 election.

Lagging in mayoral fundraising are community leader H. Spees and former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim.

Spees has already loaned himself the maximum allowable amount of $100,000, and has spent more than $110,000 in the campaign. As of April 23, he had less than $58,000 in his campaign account.

Vagim has raised just $5,178 and has less than $5,000 cash on hand.

Spees has already acknowledged his underdog role.

“If people are going to vote based on the amount of money I have raised, I will not win,” he said recently.

How much has Spees struggled in the fundraising battles? On April 23, the final day in the last fundraising period, he loaned his campaign $58,500. If he hadn’t done that, his campaign report would have shown just $576 cash on hand.

One of the biggest reasons Brand and Perea have such a huge fundraising edge is both benefited from being elected officials who had money in accounts for their current office that they were able to transfer to their respective Fresno mayor accounts.

Brand had around $143,000 in his city council account that he was able to move over to his mayoral account. Perea had $87,000 in his supervisor campaign coffers as of Dec. 31, and moved almost all of that money to his mayoral account this year.

Spees and Vagim, by comparison, were prohibited from soliciting contributions before Feb. 15, though they were free to loan money to their campaigns.

In the meantime, Brand and Perea keep collecting cash.

Perea draws his strength largely from three major groups – business, labor unions and developers.

The single largest group – around 37 percent of his donations – came from businesses or business owners. Among that group are California Grinding, Lithia Ford Lincoln of Fresno, Mystique Medical Spa, Precision Civil Engineering and Staircraft Sales.

On the union side, the Fresno Police Officers Association gave Perea $7,500, and he also got sizable contributions from the Teamsters, the building trades, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and plumbers and pipefitters, among others. Perea also transferred a $1,000 SEIU contribution from his supervisor account and got money from SEIU Local 521 Director Tom Abshere. Union contributions were around 18 percent of Perea’s contributions.

He was also supported financially by just about every major developer in the Fresno area. Developer money represents around 16 percent of Perea’s donations, but most in the development community have given the maximum contribution. For instance, he received more than $12,000 from the Granville Homes empire, including $4,100 from Darius Assemi and $4,000 from his brother Farid. Bonadelle Homes contributors gave more than $6,000, Wilson Homes $4,200 and longtime ally Ed Kashian $4,200 – the maximum for an individual donor.

Brand’s main contributors come from the business community and business trade groups, which together accounted for around 53 percent of Brand’s money.

For instance, he received the individual maximum contributions from Electric Motor Shop, trash hauler Republic Services and insurance company owner and Lincoln Club of Fresno County Chair Michael Der Manouel Jr.

Brand also got checks from the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and the California Apartment Association. In addition, Bay Area Republican super donor Charles Munger gave Brand the $4,200 individual maximum.

Besides those largely traditional Republican donors, Brand was able to win the support of one union – the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1027. This union is better known as the representative of Fresno Area Express bus drivers. They chipped in $8,400 to Brand.

Developer contributions accounted for around 5 percent of Brand’s campaign cash.

Spees got maximum contributions from both Bill and Linda Smittcamp, as well as from David Wood of Double D Farms and Herwaldt Enterprises, among others.

So where is the money going?

Spees has already purchased some TV air time on KFSN (Channel 30.1) as well as Comcast cable.

Perea and Brand showed no media buys on their reports, but Perea said his buy went in on Monday, and Brand said he filmed two commercials last weekend and plans a third this coming weekend. He said radio and TV commercials, as well as a campaign mailer “will blast out shortly” all at once.

There are five total candidates in the race. Besides Brand, Perea, Spees and Vagim, Richard Renteria is the fifth candidate. He showed no fundraising at all, according to Fresno City Clerk records.

The top two finishers among the five in the June 7 primary advance to the November general election, unless one of the candidates is able to win more than 50 percent of the vote. If that happens, the person wins the race outright and immediately becomes mayor-elect.

Current Mayor Ashley Swearengin reaches her term limit at the end of the year.

Fresno Mayoral Fundraising

Lee Brand

Raised: $287,184

Cash on hand: $292,882

NOTE: Brand moved an additional $143,276 from his City Council account to his mayoral account. That is not included in his total raised.

Henry R. Perea

Raised: $213,297

Cash on hand: $148,117

H. Spees

Raised: $162,080

Cash on hand: $57,924

Doug Vagim

Raised: 5,178

Cash on hand: 4,951

Richard Renteria

No money raised