Hill enjoys fundraising edge in state Senate race

Lieber banks on individual contributions in her quest to score Election Day upset

With elections just days away, Assemblyman Jerry Hill is banking on his superior campaign chest to help him carry the day in the state Senate race, while his opponent, former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, is hoping that grassroots support from her home turf will help her narrow the gap and score a major upset.

In the closing days of October, Hill had a huge lead in expenditures made and a modest edge in cash remaining. According to campaign-finance documents, Hill has spent $946,300 since the beginning of the year in his quest to represent the 13th District, which stretches from San Mateo County to northern Santa Clara County and includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Atherton and Sunnyvale. Lieber, meanwhile, has spent $151,572 over the same period of time.

Campaign documents also show Hill with a roughly $50,000 edge in cash remaining. Hill, a San Mateo resident who has represented his city on the county and Assembly levels, has about $178,449 left, while Lieber has about $128,085. Hill received nearly 1,500 contributions for his Senate campaign, roughly three times as many as Lieber.

But Lieber, a Mountain View resident and perpetual underdog, hopes she can counteract Hill's financial edge with grassroots support from Santa Clara County, parts of which she has represented in the Assembly between 2002 and 2008. Lieber, whose campaign has been focusing on education and the environment, has received dozens of checks from northern Santa Clara County, including 78 from Mountain View and 51 from Palo Alto. She also contributed $100,000 to her own campaign, records show.

Lieber's list of contributors includes a number of local environmentalists, including former Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier and Michael Closson, executive director of the local environmental nonprofit Acterra. Among her biggest Palo Alto contributions is from Michael Kieschnick, manager of Credo Mobile, who gave her campaign $1,000.

Hill, despite his huge fundraising advantage, has received only five contributions from Mountain View and 17 from Palo Alto, campaign-finance documents show.

Hill's Palo Alto contributors include City Council candidate Marc Berman, who gave Hill's campaign $250, and former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who contributed $100. But his campaign also benefited from major support from Hewlett Packard, which gave him $3,900 along with another $3,843 in "non-monetary contributions."

Hill, meanwhile, received 264 checks from donors in his hometown of San Mateo. Lieber had not received any San Mateo checks as of Oct. 25, when the reporting period concluded. Hill also has the endorsement of some of the state's most prominent Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Labor unions, political-action committees and major corporations have also contributed mightily to Hill's fundraising edge. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California gave his campaign $7,800, as have the California State Council of Laborers PAC and the Plumbers, Steamfitters and Refrigeration Fitters, UA Local 393 Political Action Fund. Hill's other major backers include the California Healthcare Institute ($3,900), the California Dental Political Action Committee ($3,900), the California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs Fund ($3,900) the McDonald's California Operators ($3,900) and Monsanto Company ($1,500).

Hill's financial advantage further cements his status as the heavy favorite in the race to replace termed-out Sen. Joe Simitian. In the June primary election, Hill scored an overwhelming victory when he picked up 55 percent of the votes in a four-way race. Lieber had finished a distant second with 22 percent.

Lieber told the Weekly in a recent interview that her campaign made a decision to be stingy during the primary season so as to have funds available for the general election.

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Like this comment
Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm

From the list of supporters lining up for Hill, it's getting mighty crowded at the public trough. Given the political establishment's inability to deal with California's debt, a vote for Lieber may be a sound and responsible way to protest the "politics as piggy-bank" establishment.

Like this comment
Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Meg Whitman had an outrageously huge war chest, too, but it did not guarantee a win. Personally, I hope the underdog (Lieber) wins. she is by far the more resposible of the cabdidates.

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hill voted for the HSR, so I won't be supporting him. He's so hypocrtical talking about fiscal responsibility, yet he's part of the legistlature who votes for spending on items like the High Speed Rail and making a mess of the California budget.

I hope he loses, so the rest of the politicians in Sacramento get a message.

Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

One important reason Hill has more money, as can be clearly seen from the above article, is because he's gotten big bucks from the labor unions in return for his expedient vote in support of High Speed Rail, from which unions stand to benefit in the short run. So, they're paying him back big time for his support of Jerry Brown's last-minute maneuver to get HSR passed, that at a point when about 60% of the public now oppose that boondoggle. Hill voted to put California an additional $100+ billion in debt for Brown's "black box" legacy project. The Chronicle reported, the day after the vote, that Jerry was distributing goodies to 'incentivize' the vote of some legislators. I for one would like to know if Hill was among them, or does he just believe that it makes sense to commit a huge amount of money to HSR without knowing about its viability and without knowing the fragmenting impact it will have on Peninsula communities inhabited by his constituents.

Lieber is much more deserving of our votes than Hill is for that historic capitulation to Brown that will put a financial albatross around the necks of Californians for decades to come.

Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Jerry is a HSR *****. He talks the talk about being suspicious of HSR, but you don't have to look too far to see who his handlers are, and who he pays attention to. He's still falling all over himself to glad hand himself about the electrification of Caltrain, which was a cheap $1B insurance policy to get and keep peninsula democratic votes for the HSR gravy train, so to speak. What's $1B of your tax dollars for Caltrain when it could lead to hundreds of billions funneled through Sacramento to fully build out the HSR fantasy.

It's all about money, and Jerry is chasing it harder than most. It's time for a change. I will votefor Lieber.

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