With the primary election fast approaching, Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman and patent attorney Vicki Veenker are getting late boosts from labor groups and political-action committees for their respective bids to succeed Rich Gordon in the 24th Assembly District.
According to the latest campaign filings, the two Palo Alto attorneys have had more success than any other candidate in the eight-person race in securing contributions and endorsements in the final weeks leading up to the June 7 election. Each has received thousands of dollars in May from labor unions, with Berman receiving $4,200 from the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and $2,000 from Plumbers, Steamfitters and Refrigerator Fitters, Local 393; and Veenker receiving $1,000 from Teamsters Local Union 665.
The Teamsters are just the latest labor group to throw its support behind Veenker. In February, Veenker received $8,500 from the California Teachers Association. And in April, the California Nurses Association and the Mountain View Professional Firefighters contributed $8,500 and $2,500 to her campaign, respectively. She has also received endorsements from several major labor groups, including California Teamster Public Affairs Council and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.
Berman's campaign has also benefited from generous contributions from labor unions. Northern California Carpenters Regional Council gave $7,500 to his campaign in April, while San Francisco Laborer's Local 261 PAC gave $4,200 and the San Mateo County Firefighters Local 2400 contributed $1,000. Berman has also received endorsements from Palo Alto Firefighters, IAF Local 1319, Palo Alto Police Officers Association and AFLCME Council 57.
Some labor groups opted not to choose among the two Democrats but to endorse both. Berman and Veenker are each touting on their respective campaign websites the endorsements they had received from the California Labor Federation and from the Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association.
Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang, who led the field in campaign fundraising earlier this year, has also enjoyed a flurry of late contributions, though in his case the money is coming from corporations and individuals, many of whom are based outside the Assembly District. Devcon Construction, based in Milpitas, made two contributions of $4,200 each to the Chang campaign on May 29. Gary Filizetti, the company's president, contributed two additional checks -- each $4,200 -- to Chang's campaign.
All three candidates have spent heavily thus far, with Berman leading the field with $361,239 in expenditures (not counting the more than half a million dollars that independent political-action committees have spent to support his campaign) as of May 21, according to his Form 460. Chang is second with $326,550 in expenditures, while Veenker is third with $277,558.
Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak is a distant fourth, having spent $76,466 on his Assembly campaign. Kasperzak has raised $113,416 since Jan. 1, according to his campaign filings, and had an ending cash balance of $113,890 as of May 21. His major contributors include Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP ($2,500), Recology ($2,500) and Hanson Construction Corporation ($2,100).
Kasperzak's council colleague John Inks, the lone Libertarian in the race, raised about $14,670 for his Assembly bid.
Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki, the sole Republican in the field, raised $24,215 as of late May and concluded the reporting period with $16,296 on hand. His top contributors are Charles T. Munger, who gave $4,200, William Regan, who also gave $4,200, and developer Steven Eggert, who gave $2,500.
The only other two candidates in the race, Jay Cabrera and Sea Reddy, are running low-budget campaigns and have not filed campaign-finance documents.
Underscoring the unusually competitive environment in what is typically a relatively ho-hum Assembly race (Gordon beat out two opponents in 2010 and then cruised to re-election in 2012 and 2014), independent political-action committees have been flooding residents with flyers supporting and -- in some cases -- attacking candidates.
EdVoice and the California Dental Association have been behind mailers supporting Berman's campaign, while an organization called the Californians Allied for Patient Protection has been sending out attack ads targeting Veenker.
The eight-candidate field will be winnowed down during the June 7 primary election, with the top two vote-getters advancing to square off in the general election on Nov. 8.
To watch candidate interviews, click here.
To read candidate profiles on Barry Chang, John Inks, Jay Cabrera and Marc Berman, click here.
To read candidate profiles on Mike Kasperzak, Peter Ohtaki, Seelam Reddy and Vicki Veenker, click here.
For an interactive online presentation showing the candidates' stances on top state issues, go to arcg.is/1RCk2fL.