Three weeks before the June primary election, Ron Roberts faced four cash-strapped Democratic challengers. Roberts’ campaign had $109,000 in hand. His four opponents cumulatively had less than $7,000.

And yet one challenger, Stephen Whitburn, won enough votes to push the election to a runoff this November.

But in the weeks following the primary, Whitburn didn’t gain much financial ground on Roberts, according to each campaign’s most recent financial reports.

Between May 23 and June 30, Roberts doubled Whitburn’s fundraising efforts and spent $100,000 more on his campaign. The cash gap between the candidates narrowed, but mainly because Roberts unloaded most of his funds on consultants and campaign literature.

As a new face to county politics, how much Whitburn raises will be a vital factor in his campaign’s success. If he struggles to expand name recognition through the news media, community meetings or canvassing, his campaign will have to rely more on costly ads, mailers or phone banks. Roberts already has name recognition as a 16-year incumbent.

Over the six-week period, Roberts raised $53,000 — twice as much as Whitburn. Roberts spent nearly $60,000 on literature and print ads, $33,000 on two consultants, $6,000 on his campaign website and $19,000 on other costs like office supplies.

The grand total: $118,000.

By comparison, Whitburn spent $17,285. About one-third paid for campaign literature.

Altogether, Roberts had $27,000 and Whitburn had $10,776 by the end of the reporting period, putting the candidates’ on-hand cash near each other at the start the runoff election. The next key measure comes on the next reporting deadline, Oct. 5.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts about each campaign’s fundraising efforts in the comments section or send me an email. As we move closer to the election, I’ll take a closer look at where each campaign gets its money.

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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