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City Councilman Carl DeMaio has built up a $540,000 war chest in the first month of the San Diego mayor’s race, upping the burgeoning arms race between the four major candidates.

DeMaio’s number almost doubles the $300,000 raised by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, itself a huge figure that surprised campaign watchers.

“It’s showing we’re well on our way to a fully funded campaign to get Carl’s message of reform out there,” said Stephen Puetz, DeMaio’s campaign spokesman.

DeMaio’s total benefits from his own $270,000 contribution. The councilman has long promised to match all donations received in the campaign’s first month. Puetz said DeMaio hadn’t decided if he’ll contribute any more to his campaign.

“It will be largely dependent on what opponents or what special interests, including labor, do,” he said.

DeMaio isn’t transferring money from any other campaign account, about 90 percent of his 1,150 donors were from San Diego County and all of his cash is for the June 2012 primary, Puetz added.

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Like Fletcher’s figures, DeMaio’s aren’t official. Donors can give $500 per candidate per election. Official totals are due by Aug. 1. The race’s two other major candidates, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Congressman Bob Filner, haven’t released their totals.

Campaign watchers have estimated the race through the primary would cost each candidate at least $1 million. Candidates had just more than three weeks to raise money between the start of official campaigning and the June 30 public disclosure period.

Back before the race officially started last month, I asked Puetz about the impression among political watchers that DeMaio would fund his campaign himself.

“He is not an extremely wealthy man,” Puetz replied.

Today, I asked Puetz if a $270,000 personal contribution shows that DeMaio is, in fact, “extremely wealthy.”

Puetz said DeMaio wouldn’t be spending his own money at the levels of health care magnate Steve Francis, who dropped nearly $5 million of his own money in 2008.

“As far as Republican politicians go,” Puetz said of DeMaio, “he’s not extremely wealthy.”

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter:

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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