Tuesday, November 01, 2005 | A myriad of businesses, housing development interests and tourism industry representatives have rushed to write checks to the county’s Republican Party in support of mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders and two other local conservative office seekers.

In less than a month, the San Diego County Republican Central Committee reported raising $492,625 in contributions. The flurry of donations came between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22 – raising the total reported contributions to the local Republican Party for the year to more than $865,600.

The money flowing into the Republican Party can only be used for so-called “member communications” – to support mailers and other forms of advertisement directed at San Diego County residents who are registered as Republican voters.

But the solid base of financial support will allow individual Republican mayoral and City Council candidates to direct their own resources at independent or even Democratic voters.

Party Chairman Ron Nehring said that one fund-raiser the party held recently – a “Salute to Republican Elected Officials” in honor of former Mayor Pete Wilson – was its most successful ever.

Nehring said the event brought in pledges and contributions totaling more than $800,000.

By comparison, the region’s Democratic Party Chairman Jesse Durfee said his organization hopes to raise a total of $40,000 to $80,000 to support its choice for mayor: City Councilwoman Donna Frye.

“This has always been a Republican county and the city for a long time was Republican as well and they’ve just established a solid network of big donors and big donors tend to be Republicans,” Durfee said.

His Republican counterpart, Nehring, said the money is the result of a strong desire to oppose Frye.

“Donna Frye is doing a great job raising money for the Republican Party,” Nehring said. “Every time she mentions her billion-dollar tax increase, more people contribute to our efforts.”

Frye says that after pushing reforms at City Hall, she will likely support a half-cent increase to the city’s sales tax, which would raise a projected $110 million annually. Her opponents have added up the 10 years she says the tax would be in effect to characterize it as a “billion-dollar” proposal.

But they probably didn’t need to do too much more to persuade some of the city’s deep pockets to come out against Frye. Her support of a living-wage ordinance and hostility to the proposals of local tourism industry magnates has most likely fueled a lot of their giving.

And they have given.

The San Diego Lodging Industry Association donated $65,000 to the local Republican Party in late September and a couple of weeks later the San Diego Restaurant and Beverage Political Action Committee chipped in $25,000. Restaurant industry representatives lobbied hard against the living-wage ordinance Frye championed. The new law – approved by the City Council in April – requires that contractors with the city pay their employees a minimum wage of $10 per hour and medical benefits.

And most likely further antagonizing the hoteliers and restaurant owners is the disclosure that the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union has spent more than $100,000 in support of Frye.

In support of Sanders, the Republican Party has funneled more than $170,000. Hotelier C. Terry Brown, owner of the Town and Country Resort, has himself spent more than $38,000 on materials to help Sanders’ campaign.

The money flowing into Republican coffers, however, won’t only be a benefit to Sanders’ campaign for mayor. School board President Luis Acle and public relations executive Kevin Faulconer have also already had their campaigns for City Council boosted by large expenditures from the Republican Party. Acle is competing for the open seat in District 8, while Faulconer is vying to be District 2’s representative.

As of the most recent reporting cycle, more than $45,600 of the money funneling into the Republican Party has made its way to efforts supporting Faulconer.

Other major contributors to the Republican Party in the last reporting cycle include:

– Sempra Energy $10,000

– Qualcomm Inc. $5,000

– Barratt American Homes $25,000

– McMillin Management Services $45,000

– Pardee Homes $20,000

– J.C. Resorts, LLC $20,000

– Manchester Resorts $25,000

And included in the list of the Republican contributors over the past year is the firm Datamar, whose polling on the mayor’s race has been cited by numerous media outlets. Datamar donated a total of $3,250 in March of last year.

But Datamar did not do polling or political surveys until after the donation. In April it hired pollster Richard Babcock. Babcock had previously run his own firm – Profile Research and Marketing. Babcock said Wednesday that Datamar had paid to have a table at a Republican Party event and that the firm’s previous support of the Republican Party did not mean it had a preferred candidate in this race.

Nehring said the money his organization is raising for this election cycle would not mean much if they couldn’t back it up with what he said were 3,000 active volunteers.

“You can raise all the money in the world but the road to political oblivion is lined with carcasses of campaigns who had plenty of money but no volunteers,” Nehring said.

Frye’s campaign manager Nicole Capretz said the money the Republicans have raised demonstrates how reluctant many powerful interests are to see the city change as much as it would with her as mayor.

Please contact Scott Lewis directly at

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