Top Assembly Candidates Collect Donations


Four candidates vying to replace Assemblyman Marc Levine have raised nearly $575,000 as the primary campaign nears Election Day.

The Assembly race stands out because two of the candidates — Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly and Kentfield resident Sara Aminzadeh, a member of the California Coastal Commission — each raised more than $200,000.

Connolly has raised $283,641, according to campaign finance reports covering Jan. 1 to April 23. Aminzadeh raised $221,995 during the reporting period.

The other two candidates — Steve Schwartz, Sonoma County resident, director of the Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative, and Ida Times-Green, chairwoman of the Sausalito-Marin City School District Board — raised significantly less. Schwartz had raised $47,963 by the end of the reporting period, while Times-Green had raised $19,455.

The top two voters in the June 7 state primary election will advance to the general election, regardless of party preference or whether a candidate wins a majority.

Connolly received many of his largest donations from the unions. For example, he received $9,700 from the California Teachers Association, the California Professional Firefighters, and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

State law limits donors to $4,900 for June primary elections and $4,900 for November elections, but November election donations can be made before the June election.

During the previous reporting period, a number of Aminzadeh’s supporters – including his father Fred Aminzadeh, a professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Houston, and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria – donated to him the maximum of $9,800.

Aminzadeh has received many large donations from other Democratic candidates across the state. For example, she received $4,900 from Assembly candidates Buffy Wicks, Luz Rivas, Tasha Harvath, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Ash Kalra.

Brian Sobel, a political analyst at Petaluma, said it signaled Aminzadeh was backed by the state Democratic Party leadership.

“The party apparatus basically caters to campaigns that can either be plentiful or have the wherewithal to redirect the money that goes to them,” Sobel said.

Levine, who is giving up his chance for a sixth and final term in the Legislative Assembly to run for state insurance commissioner, had significantly more money in his campaign treasury in late April than his opponent, Ricardo. Lara, the outgoing insurance commissioner, who is also a Democrat.

Levine, who lives in Greenbrae, ended the period with $1.59 million in cash while Lara ended the period with $299,894. Lara spent $427,601 during the reporting period, while Levine spent $218,022 during the same period.

Candidates vying for two openings on the Marin County Board of Supervisors have raised only a moderate amount of campaign donations by historical standards.

Mary Sackett, a Connolly aide running for her District 1 supervisor seat, has raised $63,752 as of April 23. His opponent, Gina Daly, an administrator with the San Rafael Board of Education, said she raised $44,365.

Daly, whose campaign consultant Paul Cohen has strong ties to organized labor and is also the chairman of Marin’s Democratic Party, has collected a number of large donations from unions. Daly received $4,900 from the North Bay Labor Council; San Francisco Workers Local 261; Local 104 Sheet Metal Workers Union; and UA Local 38, Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Sackett received $4,900 from Perry Litchfield and a number of donations of over $4,000 from her husband Shawn Hartje, her mother and her sister-in-law. Sacket also received $2,735 from Access4Bikes; $2,000 from Bill Bagley, a former MP for North Bay; and $1,000 from Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni. Sackett also invested $7,570 of his own money in his campaign.

In the race to oversee District 5, where three candidates are vying to replace Supervisor Judy Arnold after her retirement, Novato Councilman Eric Lucan leads the pack with $38,520 in donations. Kevin Morrison, a nonprofit consultant, said he raised $24,036, including a $14,950 personal loan for his own campaign. Marin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Colin Medalie raised $2,688 at the end of the reporting period, including a $2,188 loan for his own campaign.

Some of Lucan’s largest donations included: $4,900 from the North Bay Labor Council; $4,400 from Thompson Builders Corp., a Novato general contractor; $2,500 from Hanson Bridgett, a Novato law firm that has often represented developers seeking approval for Marin County projects; and $2,500 from Sushma Taylor, executive director of Center Point, a nonprofit social service agency in San Rafael.

In the race to replace Mary Jane Burke, who is retiring as superintendent of Marin County schools, Mill Valley School District board member Michele Crncich Hodge has raised $43,115. His opponent, John Carroll, superintendent of the Lagunitas and Bolinas-Stinson school districts, raised $35,144.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, who is seeking his third term to represent Marin and other counties, received more than $179,000 in contributions during the reporting period. He had a final cash of over $445,000.

McGuire’s opponent, Gene Yoon of Kelseyville, received more than $27,000 in contributions and finished the refereeing period with $11,670.

In the race for California’s 2nd congressional district seat, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, a Democrat from San Rafael who is seeking his sixth term, declared more than $962,000 in cash. Challenger Beth Hampson, of Rohnert Park, had $5,812 at the end of April; Douglas Brower of Ferndale had $3,777; and Chris Coulombe, of Sebastopol, had $389.

Two other challengers — Archimedes Ramirez, a neurosurgeon from San Rafael, and Darian Elizondo from Laytonville — raised less than the minimum that makes reporting mandatory.

A committee supporting bond measures for elementary and secondary school districts in San Rafael had raised more than $105,000 by the end of April, with five construction companies bringing in $80,000.

A committee supporting a package tax measure for the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District had raised $37,335 by the end of the reporting period. This committee received $15,000 from the Larkspur-Corte Madera Schools Foundation and an additional $15,000 from three parent-teacher organizations.

Additionally, a committee supporting the Mill Valley School District’s bond issue had raised $19,996 by the end of April. This committee received $9,999 from the Mill Valley Schools Community Foundation and $5,000 from Isom Advisors, a consulting firm for California school districts.


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