By KENDRA SITTON | Uptown News
Campaigns submitted their financial disclosures in January, giving the public an idea of how those candidates fared in the second half of 2019. The City Council District 3 race, whose borders most mirror where Uptown News covers, saw a clear leader in terms of cash on hand on Dec. 31: Stephen Whitburn. Whitburn had $36,211, not including loans and unpaid bills, to spend in the lead-up to the heated primary. He raised the most of any candidate and was the only one to come close to breaking six figures during all of 2019, partially thanks to an $11k infusion from the San Diego County Democratic Party.
Although Toni Duran raised thousands less than Whitburn, Adrian Kwiatkowski and Chris Olsen in 2019, she also spent less, so finished the year with $24,183. Kwiatkowski finished with $11,593 and Olsen with $8,575. Since Kwiatkowski and Olsen have both loaned their own money to the campaign, the three are relatively close in how much they have available to spend (although not all candidates choose to spend any of the money they loaned).
Michelle Nguyen, who declared her candidacy late last year, only had a few hundred dollars on hand in December, as the sole Republican in the race is forced to play catch up with other candidates who have been campaigning for over a year.
Cash on hand reflects how much money candidates have to spend to reach new voters, but not the support they already have. In recent years, number of donors has also become an important metric to determine if a campaign has grassroots support. In practice, it also means campaigns have pivoted to win over supporters who may not be able to make large donations, instead of just depending on large donors to bankroll the campaign. While those large donors are essential for metrics like cash-on-hand totals, they do not always translate into more votes from individuals.
Looking at the number of individual donors candidates had in the second half of 2019 instead of cash on hand, a much different race emerges. Instead of Whitburn leading with the other three Democrats clustered behind, three contenders are neck-and-neck. When tallied by hand based on their form 460s, and excluding multiple donations from the same person, three candidates had between 90 and 100 donors from July to December: Whitburn, Duran, and Olsen. Kwiatkowski trailed behind at around 65 donors. Since Kwiatkowski raised the second highest amount of money in the race, this suggests many of them were donors who donated the maximum amount, which is capped at $600 per election. Duran had less total contributions but nearly the same amount of donors, raising the possibility she could be the candidate receiving the most small donations. Still, with Whitburn leading in both cash on hand and number of donors, he will be a formidable opponent. To get through the primary, it may be a race for second place.
This analysis was conducted based on the form 460s candidates submitted to the City Clerk in January. The public is able to view those forms at public.netfile.com/pub2/?aid=CSD.
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at email@example.com.